LitRPG Podcast 185 -  The Heroic Villain 2, The Idle System 4, Aurora's Rift , Thirty to Fifty Feral Hogs, Luxury Cafe Owner, When Hell Froze, Dungeons of the Crooked Mountains, Ball of Light: Evolution


LitRPG Podcast 185 -  The Heroic Villain 2, The Idle System 4, Aurora's Rift , Thirty to Fifty Feral Hogs, Luxury Cafe Owner, When Hell Froze, Dungeons of the Crooked Mountains, Ball of Light: Evolution

Aug. 16th, 2019

Hello everyone, welcome to episode 185 of the LitRPG podcast.

I’m Ramon Mejia. I’m here to bring you the latest LitRPG news, reviews, and author interviews.  I have 8 new reviews just for you.

New Releases and Reviews:

The Heroic Villain 2 (11:55)

Lots more entertaining villany.

Score: 7.6 out of 10

The Idle System (A LitRPG series Book 4): The Sins (19:40)

The main character turns towards the dark side

Score:  7.5 out of 10 

Aurora's Rift (Celestial Arcanists Book 1) (23:18)

Felt more like fantasy than LitRPG

Score: 6 out of 10 

Thirty to Fifty Feral Hogs: A Crematoria Online LitRPG Short Story (31:28)

Good shifter/skinwalker short story

Score: 7.5 out of 10 

Luxury Cafe Owner (34:06)

Slower paced humorous parody of real life RPG story

Score: 7.2 out of 10 

When Hell Froze: Bloody Benny Book 1  (37:53)

Never cared about the main character

Score: 6 out of 10 

Dungeons of the Crooked Mountains (Underdog Book 1): LitRPG Series (41:33)

A good underdog story from the author of Mirror World

Score: 7.6 out of 10 

Ball of Light: Evolution (48:03)

Re: Monster story with some good world building

Score: 7.6 out of 10 

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LitRPG News

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I had a nice opportunity this past weekend to chat with the venerable Vasily Mahanenko, author of the Way of the Shaman series, Galactagon, and the Dark Paladin series. We talk about his new book Second Chance: Invasion book 1, where it takes place in the Barliona universe, and he even spills some secrets about the upcoming stories and this was cool, even talks about who that 2nd Tiefling in the story really is. We also talk about what it’s like to be a parent and have to balance writing with family life, his experience helping American LitRPG authors translate and publish their works in Russia, and his plans for future projects including visiting a convention in the U.S. Go give it a listen.

C.M. Carney, author of The Realms series was nice enough to let us know that The Forsaken God - The Realms Book Five goes live on Friday  8/16/19 and that he was putting the series on sale (1:FREE, 2/3: $1.99). He’ll also have a Gleam contest starting the 15th with prizes including: a signed physical set of the series books, audiobooks, and ebooks.


Series books:

Out Now!

Eden's Gate: The Ascent: A LitRPG Adventure 

Throne of the Ancients: A LitRPG Adventure (Stonehaven League Book 6) 

Scamps & Scoundrels: A LitRPG/Gamelit Adventure (The Bad Guys Book 1) (Aug. 15th, 2019) 

Guardian Craft: Iron Age Demons: Book Two (Guradian Craft 2) 

The Forsaken God: The Realms Book Five: (An Epic LitRPG Series) 

The World's Strongest Wizard Becomes Manaless: A Fantasy LitRPG Series (Volume One) 

New LitRPG Audiobooks

Shadow Sun Survival: Shadow Sun Book 1 

Skyflare - Rise to Omniscience, Book 3 

The Mayor of Noobtown 

Dungeon Player (A LitRPG Dungeon Core Adventure)

Glendaria Awakens Trilogy, Book 1 

Into the Dragon's Den: Axe Druid, Book 2 

I Am Gamer II 

Upcoming LitRPG:

A Mage Champion: (The Chronicles of Herst: Book 3) (Aug. 16th, 2019) 

Ruins of Rimnir: The Cabal: (A Gamelit Series) (Aug. 19th, 2019) 

Path of the Blood Phoenix (The Firebrand Series Book 3) (Aug. 20th, 2019) 

Dragon Heart: Iron Will. LitRPG wuxia series: Book 2 (Aug. 22nd, 2019) 

A Check for a Billion (Galactogon Book #3): LitRPG Series (Aug. 30th, 2019) 

Zones of Alacria: The Dragon Gate: Epic GameLit / LitRPG (The Experimental Alchemist Book 1) (Aug. 31st, 2019) 

Darkness Named (dARkness: Online Book 1) (Aug. 31st, 2019) 

Endless Fantasy Online: The Phoenix Kingdom (Aug. 31st, 2019) 

The Forest's Silence: A LitRPG Fantasy (Adventures on Brad Book 6) (Sept. 1st, 2019) 

A Game of Villains (World of Karik Book #1) Dystopian LitRPG Series (Sept. 2nd, 2019) 

Cliffs of Eldimar: A GameLit/LitRPG Adventure (Kazaran Online: Cerulean Server Book 2) (Sept. 6th, 2019) 

Gamer For Love (Alpha World Book 8) (Sept. 8th, 2019)

Blood of Fate (World 99 Book #1): LitRPG Wuxia Series (Sept. 9th, 2019) 

Gloominess +2: Congregation. A LitRPG Adventure: Book 2 (Sept. 10th, 2019) 

Bibliomancer: A Completionist Chronicles Series (Wolfman Warlock Book 1) (Sept. 17th, 2019) 

*Co-Author from Dakota Krout and James Hunter*

Skulls of Atlantis: A LitRPG and GameLit Pirate Adventure (Sept. 19th, 2019) 

Shadow Sun Rebellion (Shadow Sun series - Book 3) (Sept. 30th, 2019)

First Song 2 (Sept 2019)

Quest for Power: A LitRPG Saga (Hero Online Book 2) (Oct. 3rd, 2019) 

Dungeon of the Gods: A LitRPG Journey (Legends Online Book 2) (Oct. 6th, 2019) 

Second Story Man: A GameLit/LitRPG Adventure (The Bad Guys Book 2) (Oct. 17th, 2019) 

Deadman's Retinue (An NPC's Path Book #3): LitRPG Series

(Oct. 21st, 2019) 

A Dark Path: Grimdark LitRPG (Forsaken Talents Book 1) (Nov. 1st, 2019) 

Avatar of Light (Interworld Network Book #2): LitRPG Series

(Nov. 7th, 2019) 

Onto New Releases and Reviews

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New Releases and Reviews

(Picture 1)

The Heroic Villain 2

After conquering all of Hesse, creating a devilish new dungeon, and establishing himself as the villain that everyone loves to hate, Lucas decides to continue his quest to create new content by taking over as a dungeon master on the mainland.

Unlike the dominant force on the island he left behind, however, the once-mighty Imperium only controls a single capital city in a rapidly shrinking territory, leaving a group of scheming nobles to bicker among themselves and fight over scraps of land. Seen as an upstart and rabble-rouser, Lucas is instantly shunned and must struggle to find somewhere to begin building his new base. Now, after declaring himself the enemy of every man in the city, and with every player in the region hunting his head to claim the bounty placed there, Lucas has to decide which allies he can trust as he fights to stay alive long enough to establish a new lair and gain a foothold in a hostile land.

Introducing new monsters, a curious new group member, and flashy new spells, this Gamelit LitRPG adventure follows Lucas as he writes his own story as the greatest villain the game world has ever known.

My Opinion: 373 pages, $3.99, Available On Kindle Unlimited

Full disclosure: I did some minor beta reading for this novel. I purchased a copy when it became available. 

The tone of the story is definitely less emotional than book 1, but it makes up for that by upping the villain stuff big time. The main character really leans into doing the bold villainous actions that readers may empathize with like calling out people for their fake good actions, battling smug jerk players, and foiling the plans of no good NPCs with even more devious plans of his own. But the MC goes beyond that playing the role of a villain to continue to draw in more players to this game even getting a little gruesome and cruel. The MC also starts to pull together a harem of attentive ladies as part of his villain persona, though there’s no graphic sex in the story. It was really funny to see the MC ‘steal’ a player’s female NPC companion cause the player was being a total jerk. 

The custom game mechanics are still on par with book 1 and there are several new classes and abilities that I personally thought were very cool, if a little OP. There’s also more dungeon building and monster taming. The MC’s group leaves newb island for the larger world and has to use some intelligent combinations of game mechanics and abilities to fight the superior forces arrayed against them. Which I thought was well done. 

Overall, a good story that leans a lot more heavily on the Villain part of the Heroic Villain series title this book. 

Score: 7.6 out of 10

The Heroic Villain 2 

The Idle System (A LitRPG series Book 4): The Sins

Once bound by his morals, John has been released from his chains.

The Sinner System will finally come to reveal its true potential in his hands. Together with his gift for chaos, it will forge his path to victory.

One that will finally settle his grudges once and for all.

One that will defend what matters most to him.

For as much as a man changes, his priorities remain the same.

Read this fourth issue of The Idle System to continue another chapter in John and Sarah’s story. One of adventure, revenge, and conspiracies. For if you enjoy LitRPG, action, and morally ambiguous protagonists, this is your book. 

Don’t hesitate, read it now.

My Opinion: 276 pages, $2.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited

The fourth book in the series continues the slice of life adventuring and power progression. The main character (MC) is pretty overpowered at this point and the scope of the story gets bigger dealing with nations, and even planets as the MC travels. The big draw for this one is going to be that the MC becomes more villainous in the story all with the ultimate goal of saving his wife who was comatosed at the end of the last book. He needs to gather a massive amount of Sin points to convert to other power sources to upgrade his system. It was rather neat seeing the MC travel to a planet, learn the culture, see all the world building, and then have him tempt, bully, or intimidate his way into getting people to sin and exploit the system.

The story still has Idle System progression mechanics but besides the chapters dedicated to it, the novels feels more cultivation sometimes. Though you don't see the full character sheet often, there are semi regular updates on certain skills that the idle workers complete, and information on just how much life and toxic power the MC is gathering.

Overall the novel is good. It does wander from the main goal regularly with the MC going on these nostalgic side adventures, but that’s pretty normal for a slice of life story. I think the darker tone of the story will keep fans of the series entertained.

Score:  7.5 out of 10

The Idle System (A LitRPG series Book 4): The Sins 

Aurora's Rift (Celestial Arcanists Book 1)

Evie Winterbourne has had it.

After five exhausting years of video game marketing for a struggling MMORPG and one too many instances of her ideas getting ignored by her boss, Evie's fortunes seem to change when a chance encounter introduces her to her company's rival just as she quits her nightmare job.

Evie's dream was to work on games themselves until her ex cheated her and her team out of their beloved project's success--and it seems that the rival CEO knows her story and her potential. As a gift, he gives her the chance to play his blockbuster single-player fantasy game Aurora's Rift, and the world within might just change Evie's life forever...inside the game and out.


The rift begins a new Age, splitting time itself with magic older than the forgotten gods. It is a moment of chaos and upheaval, when alliances fracture along fault lines and peoples are raised up to thrive…or brought low. Anything is possible. Anything can happen. Ancient secrets are revealed, futures forged or broken.

Aurora’s Rift demands heroes to shape what comes next.

It is the anvil upon which your mettle is tested.

It is the arena in which you will wrest your future from the ashes of the past.

Take your place among legends.

Who you’ll be is who you truly are.

Who will you become?

My Opinion: 296 pages, $4.99, Available On Kindle Unlimited

The author has a dozen fantasy and urban fantasy stories to her name, but this is her first LitRPG story. The beginning does a pretty good job of setting up the main character and why she’d spend any length of time playing a single player game. But once the story shifts to the game world things get more mixed. 

The ‘game story’ really just felt like a fantasy story with dedicated sections that dealt with RPG mechanics. Like a dedicated section to character creation, or little sections for assigning stat points a picking spells. But the rest of the novel reads more like fantasy with the MC having grown up among elves and having a ton of lore and backstory magically known to her and her character not acting like a gamer or game developer but as an actual elf who has lived her whole life there. She goes on an adventure to discover the rifts and what they mean.

The magic system is also described in fantasy terms more than game terms. “I lay the lines of the triune threads across each other, over and under, around to form a lattice.” (11%)  “Threading heat into the spell..” (13%). 

There are quest notifications and experience given out for tasks and levels earned, but it’s a bit hit or miss whether the story even acknowledges the notifications. The stats though they improve as the MC levels, don’t have any real impact on the story. Having low strength doesn’t impede the MC, nor does having high magic help her. Her spells, even though we get inserted descriptions, don’t really have any limits in the actual story or in use and as mentioned the magic system is ‘fantasy flexible’ letting spells do things not described in the spell descriptions. 

Overall, it’s not a terrible story. But it didn’t work for me because I often felt like the game mechanics didn’t matter to the story. Sure they were there and the MC levels, so it’s technically LitRPG, but if I took them out the story wouldn’t be much different. I think the story would have been better if written as portal fantasy on an RPG world. There were just too many conflicting expectations between the VR game premise and the story for  me. Fans of the author’s fantasy series may like this more than me.

Score: 6 out of 10

Aurora's Rift (Celestial Arcanists Book 1) 

Thirty to Fifty Feral Hogs: A Crematoria Online LitRPG Short Story

Log in to a new life.

Middle-aged and soon-to-be-divorced Neil Cash is sick of his life, and desperately needs a change. He’s one of the first people to log into Crematoria Online, the latest in video game tech where players transfer their consciousnesses into the game world.

Let it get under your skin.

Neil plays as a Skinwalker, a class that lets players take on Wild Aspects of animals from the world of Crematoria Online and change form at will.

Feral hogs run amok!

Neil stumbles across a cabin in the woods, whose occupant is only concerned with protecting his children from attack by the thirty to fifty feral hogs that threaten his family’s safety!

A standalone adventure.

While this short story is set within the Crematoria Online universe, it can be read as a standalone adventure.

My Opinion: 42 pages, $2.99, Available On Kindle Unlimited

The main character takes the skin-walker class playing a dark and sometimes gory fantasy FIVR game. He explores his class while dealing with a threat to the forest. Good action, straight forward and satisfying short story.

*Note: Apparently there’s a meme reference here. I’m not up on my memes so that may affect your enjoyment. I read it as straight LitRPG and enjoyed it.*

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Thirty to Fifty Feral Hogs: A Crematoria Online LitRPG Short Story 

Luxury Cafe Owner

Alan Pender, a bored, 20-something, college graduate with a degree in general studies woke up the day after graduation and suddenly realized his degree was useless and he had to get a job. As he walked around looking for help wanted signs, a series of unfortunate accidents occurred resulting in him entering a coma. When he woke up, he discovered he'd been granted a mysterious system. Moreover, the system finally provided him with some direction about what he should do with his life. Follow Alan as he explores his new found calling!

My Opinion: 266 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited

A real life RPG story that is satirical and funny. The main character (MC) gets a sentient RPG interface but the system just wants to build up and train the MC to create the universe's best luxury cafe. Everything else is a chill slice of life adventure as the MC fulfills quests, gains coffee themed powers, and realizes the power of the ultimate cafe. Be aware that is fairly light on the RPG side and a slower story that even spends an entire chapter on the MC on social media.

The only minor negative is probably how whiney the MC can seem sometimes, but that’s part of his character development. Also, there’s no action here. It really is just follow the MC around on his caffeine filled real life adventures with an RPG interface that gets pretty snarky.

Still, I liked it. The snarky banter from the RPG interface and satire were enough to keep me mostly entertained and finish the sometimes too chill novel. I don’t think I’d read a book 2 though.

Score: 7.2 out of 10

Luxury Cafe Owner 

When Hell Froze: Bloody Benny Book 1

Beneficence Church, also known as Benny, is a special forces operative against the Demonic forces invading her people. That is until a mission behind enemy lines goes awry. Now a captive of the Demons, what will be her fate?

My Opinion: 211 pages, $3.00, Available On Kindle Unlimited

This starts out as a fantasy story where in some other dimension humans regularly fight with demons in a seemingly endless war. About 22% the main character gets captured by a demon and is gifted with the D.E.V.I.L. system which is just a RPG upgrade system. She then has to decide what powers and upgrades to take to either escape or help the demons. The MC has to work with the demon Lord because he has her squad hostage but it's interesting to see her learn about an enemy she'd been raised to think where mindless killing machines and fighting them most her life. 

The RPG stuff doesn't start till almost 22% into the story and the RPG system has several ways to increase power from gaining demon followers to killing enemies. Then applying the points gained to specific abilities and magic with clear descriptions.

Though I'll say I thought the premise of the story was interesting, and that the action is well written, it was challenging to get into the story. I just never really came to care about the MC. So even though she's a badass on the battlefield, I was never invested in her success and the RPG system wasn't interesting enough to stay engaged. 

Overall, while not a bad story, it didn’t work for me. In addition to not ever really caring about the MC, the RPG stuff took way too long to introduce and wasn’t that important to the story. It could have easily been replaced with a magic system. That plus the rushed ending and it was a miss for me.

Score: 6 out of 10

When Hell Froze: Bloody Benny Book 1 

Dungeons of the Crooked Mountains (Underdog Book 1): LitRPG Series

Eric was born in a world governed by the Great System, in the family of Aren Bergman, a respected miner from Orchus. But the joy of gaining a son was overshadowed by the newborn’s terrible affliction. Eric was completely nulled – level zero and no characteristics points. The only things keeping him from dying were his tiny base supplies of “life” and “energy.”

The medicine woman who delivered Eric believes this to be the work of the evil spirit Bug. Due to the peculiar laws of the Great System, Eric cannot use experience essences or characteristics tablets, so he risks having to spend his whole life confined to a bed. But his father finds a solution. He takes out a large bank loan and goes to the capital where he buys a few artifacts of the Ancients on the black market, which have no level restriction.

Despite having the artifacts, Eric is still very feeble and everyone in town thinks him a freak. But at least he can move on his own and that gives the Bergmans hope. But alas, it isn’t for long. On Eric’s fourteenth birthday, his father and mother die in a mining accident. The bank takes their house, and Eric is left with no choice but to work off the remaining debt in the Dungeons of the Crooked Mountains.

And so begins the story of a nulled boy’s struggle to survive…

My Opinion: 393 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy for review. I purchased a copy when it became available. 

This is novel is written by the same author of the popular Mirror World series and if you’ve read that and enjoyed it you can be assured you’ll probably like this too. From the first pages I was hooked.

The story is set on a fantasy RPG world where the main character (MC) is born 'null' or with low stats and a level of zero. Just about everything in their world has a min level 1 requirement so he can’t use anything, not even the special tablets that raise stats and skills. The MC can only use rare artifacts don't have level requirements and while his father and mother try to get him some so he has the strength to get out of  bed. When tragedy strikes, the MC is left all alone and sent to work off the family debt. Now he has to not only survive but avoid the many scheming bad people looking to exploit others and he has to find someway out of the debtors camp before he’s struck with an ever increasing burden.

The story is pretty good with some very interesting world building that makes the RPG stuff part of the world’s culture. The gods 'System' and 'Random' determine all things with the evil God 'Bug' being responsible for all the bad things that don't make sense. Instead of automatic stat increases, everything is improved by tablets that drop from gathering resources or killing monsters. These tablets grant XP, stat increases, skills, magic, and abilities. Since these are physical items, they’re also a commodity that others sell, buy, and steal to get. The world as a whole is not kind with traditions like inheritable debt and cold calculating people willing to put people in perpetual debt to keep them working and stealing their tablets. 

Overall, this is a good underdog story with a disadvantaged MC facing a cruel world and figuring out someway to survive and turn his disadvantage into an asset. 

Score: 7.6 out of 10

Dungeons of the Crooked Mountains (Underdog Book 1): LitRPG Series 

Ball of Light: Evolution 

After waking up, Steve doesn't know where he is. Heck, he doesn't know what he is. Despite his spotty memory, he's pretty sure he didn't used to be a floating ball of light.

He's also certain that he's not originally from this dangerous fantasy world...maybe. Okay, fairly certain.

To make things stranger, he seems to be involved in something big, something magical...a game.

Who was he before? Will his memories come back? Why does he have an assistant explaining the game's rules to him?

He can evolve? There's a countdown timer?

One thing Steve does know is that he needs to figure out what's going on fast, and if he is playing a game, even a deadly one, he plans to win.

My Opinion: 226 pages, $3.99, Available On Kindle Unlimited

Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy for review. I purchased a copy when it became available. 

The story existed on the Royal Road for years and has now been edited and published on Amazon. This is a Re:Monster story  a kind of story where the main character (MC) is a monster and gets to evolve as part of their progression path. The MC wakes up as a ball of light with a companion Bonnie who is his guide. He has to learn about the new rules of his life which includes gathering energy from animals, kills, and other sources to purchase spells, and evolve into another monster. 

The thing that separates this from other stories is the good world building. Early in the story the MC comes into contact with a human village has to decide how to deal with them and balance their greed to use him with his need for knowledge. There are threats to the village that the MC also has to deal with that not only adds action but expands the world building. The world building is really quite good with the author not only writing about the background for individual characters, but the history of the region, political situations between villages and the capital, social and cultural norms, and even information about how the culture goes about naming their family. The details really flesh out the world and make it more than just a setting for the story. 

The RPG progression is really detailed. Lots of info on the evolutions and magic the MC learns from absorbing energy. Good stuff that is seen regularly through the story.

Overall, though I’ve read other types of stories like this, few do as well with the world building. I enjoyed it. 

Score: 7.6 out of 10

Ball of Light: Evolution 

That’s it everyone!

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(Music 4)

Music Credits

"Blip Stream" "Mighty Like Us" "Big Shift" "Vivacity"

Kevin MacLeod (

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