LitRPG Podcast 145
LitRPG Podcast 145
Dec. 7th, 2018
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 145 of the LitRPG podcast. For the full show notes visit us at: https://litrpgpodcast.com/litrpg-podcast-145
Before we begin, I want to thank a couple new Patreon supporters: Willie Williams and Michael Reynolds. They both have decided to donate to the podcast on monthly basis. Thank you both for your amazing support.
I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews. I have 5 new reviews just for you.
New Releases and Reviews:
Bit slice of life, but it still quite good.
Score: 7.4 out of 10
Less Spooky, More Joe, and some good dungeon diving
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Light LitRPG dungeon master story
Score: 7.2 out of 10
Wuxia, LitRPG, Cultivation..oh, my.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
Good action portal fiction, but not LitRPG this time
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This week on Facebook Live, Mountain Dale Press talked to one of their authors, Xander Boyce, about Advent - Red Mage: book 1 and what may be in the pipeline with Advent book 2.
Someone talking about LitRPG in the wild! No, it is actually Tao Wong's narrator for Adventures on Brad talking on the DnD podcast. But for several minutes he mentions his work narrating LitRPG. And you can tell the other people have no idea what he's talking about, but it was still neat. It's the episode that came out 11/21/18, DnD and Improv Comedy, at about the 48 min mark.
Aleron Kong’s The Land: Raiders, book 6 in the Chaos Seeds series was voted Customer Favorite on Audible for 2018. Congrats to both Aleron and the narrator Nick Podehl.
Paul Campbell Jr., author of Peaks of Power, has started a Patreon for fans that want to support him. He’s offering some good rewards depending on the tier of support: custom stickers, ebooks, early chapters, signed book copies, merch, he’ll even fly out to you and take you to dinner if you pay enough. Go support the author if you love his stuff!
If you’ve been craving some merchandise based on the hit LitRPG novel, Life Reset, you can now get it. There are several t-shirts and mugs that the author has setup to get made and shipped out.
The GameLit Society’s annual charity drive did great and raised $6000 for St. Jude’s Children Hospital in just a month. Yaay!! Thank you everyone, but especially Daniel Schinhofen who gave over $2,000 by himself. He’s one of the most generous bearded men I know. Wait, that sounds weird.
New LitRPG Audiobooks
*No cover art on the audible page*
Hero (Level Up Book #2) LitRPG Series (Dec. 10th, 2018)
Freehaven Online: Winter Dungeonland (Book 3) (Dec. 16th, 2108)
True Hero (Champion Is Playing Book #1) LitRPG Series (Dec. 17th, 2018)
Realm of Noria. [LitRPG series. Book 1. The Birth] (Dec. 17th, 2018)
Dungeon Mauling - A LitRPG GameLit Novel (The Good Guys Book 3) (Dec. 19th, 2018)
Finding a Body (The Dark Herbalist Book #4) LitRPG series (Dec. 27th, 2018)
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
Gearing Up (Apocalypse Gates Author's Cut Book 3)
Alvin had another rough week, but this time, he had Gothy with him.
Travelling from Utah to Nevada, they were able to set up two more Settlements. Then they had to visit the world of Fey to rescue the kids of the Beatty, Nevada Settlement. Just when things looked like they were going well, the Developers got involved.
With the very rules of the game changing, Alvin found himself in a new position. Gothy pledged herself to him through the game system, leaving her collared and bound to obey his every whim. Coming to terms with their new relationship, Alvin wondered what would come next.
He wasn’t expecting a road trip north to loot an abandoned town, nor the Dragon that guarded it. What came as the biggest surprise was the chance encounter with a fantasy race whose gate had opened. What would come of this fateful meeting?
(This book contains adult situations, in all their horror and glory, including; sex, abuse, drug use, and murder. It also contains graphic sex scenes, which portray elements of BDSM. You’ve been warned.)
My Opinion: 395 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review, but purchased it when it became available.
Warning: Graphic sexual content. Including BDSM and bondage. It makes up less than 10% of the novel, but some of it is not skippable and is woven into the narrative as part of the MCs relationship.
Book 3 continues all the things you may love or not love about the Apocalypse Gate series. All the good RPG action, upgrading, leveling, monster and man fighting. However, the sex, intimacy, and relationship stuff also seems to be a more open part of the story now that Gothy is in a relationship with the MC. It makes sense since they’re in an adult relationship but it will be a turn off for some readers.
There's a new rune system in the novel that lets people upgrade weapons and items. It allows for some really interesting bonuses when the runes are stacked correctly. The settlement system changes due to some updates to the game world and it was a neat feature of the story to see all the exploits the MC could come up with and then the devs patch them.
Most of the story is still really good action-adventure, but out of all the books in the series, this one feels the least focused on a clear goal. Book 1 had the introduction of the system and the RPG apocalypse, the MC has quests to fulfill certain scenarios, and then it opens to the main sandbox story world. Book 2 focused on settlements. Developing them, expanding them, and finding new ones to start. But book 3 doesn't have any clear goals beyond ‘lets see the forest’ and ends up feeling more slice of life. Which isn't bad, but is a change in the storytelling. There are definitely some good stories here and is setup for some better ones in upcoming books. But still, very slice of life where you’re just following the MC and Gothy as they adventure this time.
Score: 7.4 out of 10
The Sleeper Must Awaken (The Twenty-Sided Eye Series Book 3)
Joe has the power. The question is, can he hold on to it?
The malevolent kingdom of the night is now aware of his presence. A confrontation is guaranteed, just as Rook intended.
Joe provides freedom to the oppressed and enslaved. They flock to his banner. His nine-to-five job is gone forever, for a ruler of a kingdom never sleeps.
He believes this magical world is a game designed for fun, with no real consequences, but he couldn't be more wrong. His AI partner is starting to see this new reality for what it is.
Will Joe, in his ignorance, continue to defeat every opponent? Or, in order to survive, must he be awakened?
Someone's going to die the final death, there's no way around that. Only who?
My Opinion: 457 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Book 3 in the series continues the good LitRPG storytelling. Though a few things do change that I think most fans will enjoy. Joe, the main character (MC), finally knows that the world he is in is not a game. That one change really improves the story because now the MC isn’t limited by that confining POV. Additionally, one of the most common complaints about book 2 was the way Spooky was handled and seemed to change. Well, that’s been modified too. I won’t say how, but the character feels more like she did in book 1. Also, the novel focuses around Joe, though you still get some smaller chapters showing what is happening with the other kingdoms and villains.
Other than those changes, the story still has the same good action adventure stuff it always had. There are some very funny scenes, my favorite being the one with the love sick troll. There are some good dungeon crawls, minor politics, and a storyline towards the end that felt a little rushed but had some surprising twists.
Overall, a good entertaining read.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Dead Must Die - A Novella of The Realms: A Humorous GameLit Adventure (The Realms Shorts Book 1)
Simon died once. He'll be damned before he dies twice.
Simon never asked to become the new dungeon master of the Barrow, but a millennia-old teenager stuck in the skull of a dead lich has few life options. After bonding with the Barrow’s dungeon core, he learns they are near death from hunger and only by consuming the life energy and experiences of sentient beings can they survive.
Lucky for Simon a party of murderous adventurers invades the Barrow in search of treasure and glory. They look to be a perfectly tasty meal until one transforms into a mentally unstable fanatic whose specialty is killing the undead in all its forms, especially teenagers stuck in skulls bonded to dungeons.
If Simon can’t master his new powers, defeat invaders bent on plunder and convince the Barrow to take a kinder, gentler approach to feeding, then he will die a second time. And this time it’ll be permanent.
Dead Must Die is a Short Novella set in the Bestselling The Realms universe. It takes place sometime after Barrow King but before the soon to be released Scourge of Souls - Book Three of the Realms.
My Opinion: 62 pages, $2.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
A nice dungeon master story. There aren’t a lot of RPG mechanics in the the story, but dungeon has tiers of growth, HP, status ailments, and can grow and change as it absorbs the essence from deceased adventurers. Half the story is from the sneaky dungeon divers POV and the other half sets up the new dungeon master and the two groups eventual interactions. It’s a neat story. Very pricey at almost $3 for 62 pages though.
Score: 7.2 out of 10
VeilVerse Novels written by Blaise Corvin and William D. Arand
Ok. I’ll be reviewing the first two novels written in the new VeilVerse Universe. The universe is created by both William D. Arand and Blaise Corvin. The forward of the Asgard Awakening does the better job of explaining how the two decided to create and write in this shared universe and are open to other authors writing in it too.
Having read both novels back to back, I don’t know that I’d call this a shared universe as much as I would a shared multi-verse with good cross over possibilities. Cultivating Chaos and Asgard Awakening are both set on different planets/alternate realities, it’s not 100% clear which it is. Each novel has its own magic/qi system, time lines, unique cultures, writing styles, and sub themes. If I hadn’t been told in advance by the shared cover art design and forwards, I’m not sure that I would have known they’re in a shared multi-verse. The story universe is setup so that there are an infinite number of planets that exist and grow independently but sometimes, either by accident or on purpose, a rift in time and space occurs connecting these worlds. This is called a rip in the Veil. That’s what has allowed for some cross over between residents of these worlds.
However, they do have some things that cross. The two novels have the same prologue. They are both kind of slice of life. They both have the same types of creatures: Humans, and Kin (beast people). Though they’re treated a bit differently in each novel. People from both novels are aware of the other worlds. The two main characters of each novel are cousins and were both transported from earth at the same time, just to different worlds. There is one scene in each book, where both characters exist in the same place but it’s really only for an instant. There are definitely story threads in both that make a crossover easy and almost inevitable in future books. Other than that, at least for now, each novel really feels like it’s own thing.
Cultivating Chaos (VeilVerse: Cultivating Chaos Book 1)
Ash led a very normal life by his own standards. It had its ups and downs, much like anyone else’s.
Being a talented martial artist had definitely been an up, while high-school as a whole was a down. His own father not being a great role model, and his uncle being everything he wanted to be.
To Ash it felt like a very normal life.
Right up until he was literally pulled into a portal that spat him out into another world.
One that was full of martial arts. Martial arts that the practitioners of such used magic to employ. To set the very air on fire with a punch, or to turn their skin hard as diamonds.
To fly through the air, if they had enough power.
A world where the strong ruled, and the weak died.
Three years of living his life as one of the citizens, those without power, and Ash has figured out how to survive. With his adoptive family and a lot of persistence.
His goals in life have become to give back to those who gave to him. And he’d do whatever he had to, to do that.
Except Ash is about to get his life turned around again. Turned around and altered completely. He’s about to discover a treasure from a time long lost. Forgotten.
A treasure that is going to change his destiny and give him another direction to go. If he wants it.
This is a VeilVerse novel.
Warning and minor spoiler: This novel contains graphic violence, undefined relationships/a full harem, unconventional opinions/beliefs, and a hero who is tactful as a dog at a cat show. Read at your own risk.
My Opinion: 225 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A light LitRPG action oriented novel with cultivation, wuxia, martial arts, and a PG harem.
The story side of things is essentially slice of life. You follow the main character (MC) as he lives in this Wuxia inspired, cultivation, world. He trains as a martial artist, seeks to help his adopted family, fights in tournaments, and gives just desserts to the arrogant pompous bullies. There are also some nice story arcs but I won't ruin them.
On the game mechanic side, things are pretty light. There is a cultivation based progression system. People increase their cultivation by levels, there is a distinct power curve for the MC, and eventually the MC even gets a game like UI to see people's health and qi levels. However, the progression system, and cultivation in general, isn't particularly deep or detailed. Cultivation levels are mostly used to differentiate the relative power levels of characters.
Cultivation in the novel, while the key way to increasing power, is among the least detailed of what I've read as Litrpg. The Divine Dungeon uses cultivation, but gives fine detail about specific steps and geometric patterns mana has to be shaped into and there are definite guided principles to that mana cultivation based on elemental affinities. The Ten Realms, also uses cultivation and there are whole long sections detailing the different techniques to cultivate the body and spirit. Including hardening organs, opening meridians, refining and condensing mana. In this novel, cultivation often amounts to mediating and imaging your Qi pool, then folding and condensing it until it can't any more. That’s it. Not a bad description, but of the cultivation stories I've read that are also LitRPG, it’s one of the least detailed.
Combat is the big highlight of the novel. The action is frenetic and fast paced. The combination of martial arts and qi based abilities gives the fights a Hunter X Hunter vibe, one of my favorite animes.
The harem aspect is very PG and while there is the inference of sex in the novel, it is very fade to black. Otherwise this aspect is handled like it is in Super Sales on Super Heroes, another novel of the authors. There are lots of women that care for the MC who ultimately specialize themselves in particular areas to fill out a balanced team for him.
The few drawbacks in the story: 1) All the power the MC gets feels unearned. Literally every skill, technique, power boost, and even his ability to cultivate come from his magic ring. The MC just does makes a search query and then all the info is downloaded into his brain and he's a master of that skill, trade, technique, or whatever. Even though the MC uses those skills in intelligent ways, spars, cultivates and makes the most of what he gets, it all stems from what is basically a wish ring.
Overall, this is a good entertaining story. There are a few things that bring it down for me in small ways but the great action, and interesting story kept me turning pages.
Score: 7.6 out of 10
Asgard Awakening (VeilVerse: Asgard Awakening Book 1)
After years of slavery, subjected to torments of body and spirit by the inhuman Kin, Travis Sterling can barely recall his old life. Memories of Earth, and of disappointing his family barely seem real anymore.
But even without the occasional voice in his head, Trav knows he’s different. A vast amount of rune crafting knowledge has mysteriously taken up residence in his mind; too bad he doesn’t have any mystical power. If he could find a way to actually use any rune magic, his situation could change.
The stubborn, unbroken man burns for justice, but despite his strange abilities, he stands no chance against the Kin. In the near future, when Trav comes face to face with complete destruction, his mettle and creativity will be tested. Will he perish, or will he grasp a chance to shake the foundations of his new world?
A VeilVerse Story
*Note: This series was written for adults. Asgard Awakening contains morally grey situations, polyamory, fantasy violence, and slavery. Please do not attempt dangerous rune magic at home.
My Opinion: 240 pages, $4.98, Available on Kindle Unlimited
A more brutal slice of life novel than expected. It starts with the main character (MC), Trav, as a slave in a mine for the last 3 years and recently had his wife murdered. Gritty stuff. The story from there is mostly slice of life with the MC picking up new women/kin for his harem. There are lots of Norse themes of power and some storylines with other gods. But it’s mostly about the MC traveling, getting into many fights and adventures, and expanding his powers as he expands his group of friends/Valkyries/lovers.
I really loved the opening storyline where the MC mourns for his wife. It’s a great way to humanize the character even through he does some brutal stuff to survive in the mines. It doesn’t follow through the rest of the story, but it’s good while you get it.
I also really liked the rune crafting system. It’s a great flexible magic system that is gradually developed and expanded by the author as the story goes on. Personally, I would have loved even more details, including quantified mana costs and capabilities for runes vs glyphys vs whatever. The system is a little OP by the end of the story, but it really is a fun magic system and all the things that can be done with it.
Now, here is the big question, is this LitRPG? Unfortunately, no. There is no RPG progression system in the story. The closest you get is at the 56% and 70% marks. At the 56% mark the MC chooses to think of his mana in terms of mana bars that increase every time he binds a woman as a Valkyrie. This is an internal visualization for the MC and no one else in this world views mana in these terms. Other people often see mana as a pool or something else less quantifiable. At the 70% mark, he uses his newly increased mana bars to decide how much he can upgrade his body using runic magic since the upgrades will require full time use of some of those magic bars. The thought process the MC goes through here is very much of a gamer mentality, considering whether it’s best to go with melee buff, or be a ranged caster, or something else. Good stuff, but in total it only makes up 5% of the entire novel and those mechanics and gamer mentality aren’t really even mentioned most of the rest of the story. There are many other places where the magic the MC uses doesn’t even seem to have a quantified cost. There is an exception at the 84% when the MC mentions in one sentence that his fight/spell slinging costing him a whole bar of mana.
Now, the author is very very clear in his forward to say that he thinks the novel is GameLit and that some people may see it as LitRPG. He is not advertising it as LitRPG, so there’s no negative score. I genuinely think book 2 in the series may pick up more LitRPG elements consistently but I’ll have to wait and see.
Overall, this is a good story. As portal fiction it easy gets a 7.4 out of 10. Good action, good stories, with some potential for some really need crossover stuff with Cultivating Chaos, and other shared multiverse stories.
That’s it everyone!
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