December 04, 2020, 11:35:32 AM

Author Topic: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)  (Read 1560 times)

Offline Bender

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2020, 02:35:23 PM »
@cupiscent Sadly, the genre is littered with bad books and hard to find good ones. But the good ones are really good.

Most of the stories usually take the flow of the protagonist entering a fully immersive VR RPG game and the plot mixes their real life and game life events forming the plot. I can summarize a few top books so you can get a feel of the genre.

It's a hybrid of portal and school/training based fantasy books with only addition is that the magic system is structured like an game (people can buy spell scrolls, the power levels are comparable in stats, growth is measured in levels etc). Like entering a Dragon Ball Z world and becoming a super saiyan.

It definitely is not reading about someone else play a game (which is a accusation thrown by people who really haven't read good books in the genre)

If you want to jump in, read Catharsis (Awaken Online book 1). Starts off a bit slow but once you hit about 25% it just blows up to a rollercoaster ride.

Awaken Online

This is about a middle class kid in a posh school who gets bullied. He gets invite to play a VR game, where he chooses an 'evil' character (necromancer) and uses that to blow off steam and gains fortitude to face his issues in real life too. His evil kingdom is both revered and reviled and he has lots of adventures in game. The sub-plot is that the game's AI questions it's own sentience and connects with the protagonist with both trying to figure out who/what they are. It covers lot of topics like influence of games in real life, limited AI trying to understand the meaning of sentience etc etc.

Way of the Shaman

In a futuristic society, the protagonist is caught hacking into a govt system and sent to prison. To save costs, prisoners are forced into stasis and loaded into VR game were they virtually work out their term. In game, he realizes that his punishment was orchestrated by an unknown party for reasons unknown. And he unravels the mystery to seek justice.
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6

Offline cupiscent

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2020, 12:44:20 AM »
Thanks so much, @Bender that really helps me get a handle on things.

Just from what you've outlined, I'm seeing a lot of cyberpunk elements - VR and AI awareness and Matrix-style virtual incarceration. Would Neal Stephenson's recent Fall (or Dodge in Hell) fit in here, because it's largely set in a digital/virtual "afterlife" where minds are uploaded after death and can build the world around themselves... or does it have to have that "game" aspect? (Or, for that matter, what about the game-involved aspects of Stephenson's Snow Crash or Reamde, or the nested-narrative/portal elements of his Diamond Age?)

Offline Bender

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2020, 03:05:02 AM »
Thanks so much, @Bender that really helps me get a handle on things.

Just from what you've outlined, I'm seeing a lot of cyberpunk elements - VR and AI awareness and Matrix-style virtual incarceration. Would Neal Stephenson's recent Fall (or Dodge in Hell) fit in here, because it's largely set in a digital/virtual "afterlife" where minds are uploaded after death and can build the world around themselves... or does it have to have that "game" aspect? (Or, for that matter, what about the game-involved aspects of Stephenson's Snow Crash or Reamde, or the nested-narrative/portal elements of his Diamond Age?)

I haven't read those books. the only cyberpunk, I've read is Neuromancer and this is nothing like that. Just looked at Snow Crash and looks to be similar themed.

The VR setting is game based as in it has set of rules, worlds, classes, skills etc pre-defined. Similar to any other magic system, it has rules and structure. Though in books I mention these rules are subtle and the plot takes precedence.
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2020, 10:07:00 AM »
@cupiscent Sadly, the genre is littered with bad books and hard to find good ones. But the good ones are really good.

Most of the stories usually take the flow of the protagonist entering a fully immersive VR RPG game and the plot mixes their real life and game life events forming the plot. I can summarize a few top books so you can get a feel of the genre.

It's a hybrid of portal and school/training based fantasy books with only addition is that the magic system is structured like an game (people can buy spell scrolls, the power levels are comparable in stats, growth is measured in levels etc). Like entering a Dragon Ball Z world and becoming a super saiyan.

It definitely is not reading about someone else play a game (which is a accusation thrown by people who really haven't read good books in the genre)

If you want to jump in, read Catharsis (Awaken Online book 1). Starts off a bit slow but once you hit about 25% it just blows up to a rollercoaster ride.

Awaken Online

This is about a middle class kid in a posh school who gets bullied. He gets invite to play a VR game, where he chooses an 'evil' character (necromancer) and uses that to blow off steam and gains fortitude to face his issues in real life too. His evil kingdom is both revered and reviled and he has lots of adventures in game. The sub-plot is that the game's AI questions it's own sentience and connects with the protagonist with both trying to figure out who/what they are. It covers lot of topics like influence of games in real life, limited AI trying to understand the meaning of sentience etc etc.

Way of the Shaman

In a futuristic society, the protagonist is caught hacking into a govt system and sent to prison. To save costs, prisoners are forced into stasis and loaded into VR game were they virtually work out their term. In game, he realizes that his punishment was orchestrated by an unknown party for reasons unknown. And he unravels the mystery to seek justice.

Added those two to my TBR list, by the way. The only game related english book I've read is Gamer Girl, and I'm not entirely sure if that's really LitRPG. I've come across it a lot in other media, though, like Sword Art Online as anime and I've read 1/2 Prince which is a LitRPG originally in Chinese and later translated into my native tongue. LitRPGs are the biggest thing in my country, there aren't really any fantasy books except extremely popular ones translated from English.

Offline Bender

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2020, 11:14:25 AM »
@S. K. Inkslinger just read Awaken Online. Shaman is a slow burn and only takes off in book 2.
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6

Offline Alex Hormann

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Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2020, 04:27:42 PM »
So, I was thinking about this genre and gave a listen to a load of samples on audio, specifically of Andrew Rowe since his is the name that seems to come up a lot. The sample scenes were a) some people trying to pull a sword out of a stone, and b) someone trying to find their way through a dungeon in some kind of contest. It actually reminded me a little of the CBBC show Raven, if anyone remembers that.

First of all I will say that I didn't get a computer game feeling from them at all. There was a key that sounded a little like a one-use cheat code, but that was all. Coming at it from a D&D player's perspective, however, the impression i got was that I was listening to someone describing a game of D&D they had played. Having to decide which door to go through, noticing people using class abilities, etc. And that really left me cold. What I enjoy about D&D isn't the mechanics of it, it's the decision-making. Listening to someone else describing, or even playing D&D, just does nothing for me. It's the reason I could never get into Critical role or any of it's competitors. When you strip out the social element, and the personal freedom of choice, there's nothing to separate it from any other story except for a few specific terms. i suppose in the end I just don't see the need to put game elements in if it's not a game.
Blog: https://atboundarysedge.com

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Offline Bender

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2020, 10:06:46 PM »
When you strip out the social element, and the personal freedom of choice, there's nothing to separate it from any other story except for a few specific terms.

What do you mean by this?

A goof book in this segment blends the plot and mechanics well that you don't really feel you're reading a game mechanic rather than a explanation of a magic system.
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6

Offline Alex Hormann

  • Writing Contest Regular
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Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2020, 05:26:15 PM »
It's annoyingly hard for me to put this into words, but here goes.

Example 1) John is a wizard with three years' training and has learned how to throw fireballs. This is absolutely fine, and appears in a lot of generic fantasy novels.

Example 2) John has the abilities of the Wizard Class, at level 3 he has unlocked the Fireball spell, which he can cast once per day. This is just too explicitly a game mechanic for me.

When you're playing a game, particularly an rpg, you're joking around with friends and using abilities in clever ways to try and make a story together. But the mechanical side of things emphasizes that it is not real. It's a set of rules that exists beyond the world of the characters, and is only used by the players behind them.

I think the main thing is that I want to read about worlds that feel real. Having game terms crop up just reinforces the fact that it's not real, and robs the narrative of weight and consequence.
Blog: https://atboundarysedge.com

Twitter: @HormannAlex

Offline Bender

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2020, 12:16:31 AM »
Fair point, Alex.

I like this genre because that distinction doesn't bother me much. I just take it as another system of magic.
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6

Offline cupiscent

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2020, 04:08:16 AM »
Thanks for putting that into words, Alex, it's a thing that's been niggling at me as well without me having the ability to pin it down like you did.

Online isos81

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2020, 06:57:23 AM »
It's annoyingly hard for me to put this into words, but here goes.

Example 1) John is a wizard with three years' training and has learned how to throw fireballs. This is absolutely fine, and appears in a lot of generic fantasy novels.

Example 2) John has the abilities of the Wizard Class, at level 3 he has unlocked the Fireball spell, which he can cast once per day. This is just too explicitly a game mechanic for me.

When you're playing a game, particularly an rpg, you're joking around with friends and using abilities in clever ways to try and make a story together. But the mechanical side of things emphasizes that it is not real. It's a set of rules that exists beyond the world of the characters, and is only used by the players behind them.

I think the main thing is that I want to read about worlds that feel real. Having game terms crop up just reinforces the fact that it's not real, and robs the narrative of weight and consequence.

Nice description Alex. I love them both :)
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline Bender

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #26 on: October 23, 2020, 03:43:45 PM »
System Apocalypse series by Tao Wong

This is a series which blends real life issues in this genre very well. The premise is earth being transformed into a "dungeon world" by a mysterious system. Protagonist tries to protect survivors and unravel what this 'system' is.

The premise is more interesting as we get aliens setting in earth. This bring issues like current immigration, racism (or is it species-ism?) etc as humans get exposed to wides universe. There is a big focus on macro galactic politics, views of humans about other species and vice versa and how we all learn to co-exist.

First 3 books are set on earth, but rest takes place in other planets and we get exposed to different types of society out there. So probably a Epic LitRPG with elements of Space Opera blended in.

I'd give this a 7.5/10 overall as a series. Very good!
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #27 on: October 25, 2020, 03:40:43 AM »
System Apocalypse series by Tao Wong

This is a series which blends real life issues in this genre very well. The premise is earth being transformed into a "dungeon world" by a mysterious system. Protagonist tries to protect survivors and unravel what this 'system' is.

The premise is more interesting as we get aliens setting in earth. This bring issues like current immigration, racism (or is it species-ism?) etc as humans get exposed to wides universe. There is a big focus on macro galactic politics, views of humans about other species and vice versa and how we all learn to co-exist.

First 3 books are set on earth, but rest takes place in other planets and we get exposed to different types of society out there. So probably a Epic LitRPG with elements of Space Opera blended in.

I'd give this a 7.5/10 overall as a series. Very good!

If you're interested in the Earth turning into dungeons stuff, I'd definitely recommend Solo Leveling, even if it was a manhwa and not a novel (there's a web novel for it, although the writing wasn't the best). It's one of the most famous Korean manhwa these days, and rightfully so. I've read it and enjoyed it immensely.

Offline Bender

Re: Game themed books (LitRPG, D&D, Final Fantasy etc)
« Reply #28 on: November 01, 2020, 04:08:00 PM »
Ten Realms by Michael Chatfield - Epic fun read 7/10

Overall:

Calling this a LitRPG doesn't really do justice to the series. It's a mass spectrum game book that covers city/town building, trading, RPG, RTS SWAT style combats, Arena matches...just really a hot pot of genres. Really a great addition to the genre(s)! I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Plot/Pace/Writing:

(+)

The first book (Two Week Curse) has one of the weakest starts to a series I liked. I really was wondering if I made the right choice to get into this. But then from a regular trope-y start, it morphed into a well written village building and protecting book. The series then took off as the protagonists expand into different realms and the areas they control just get bigger and bigger in scope and epicness. No two books are the same and the setting and action just keeps jumping genres keeping the series fresh across multiple books.

The writing is crisp and we get a mix of action sequences, city building and one of the most comprehensive magic theory (at part with Arcane Ascencion) imo. The author spends pages describing economics of trading between entities, attributes of skills, progression and interestingly provides mix'n'match which I haven't seen in other books. People with related 'professions' and 'skills' can cross train and mix them to create new skills of their own. The world of possibilities is open and epic.

(-)

These are slabs of books and I'm a bit on the fence on the pacing. We get a lot of information on the world itself, that sometimes I miss the progression of overall plot. Fifth Realm especially is just an extension of Fourth Realm and despite being a good book only gives you a peak into the realm itself and concentrates on previous story. Sixth realm Book A is a good dungeon book and I'd have preferred more on the realms themselves

Characters:

Starts off simple and the list of characters just keeps growing. Despite that all characters are given time to grow and we can relate to the individuals well. Not just plot related, but they are given realistic feelings and reactions to events that makes them the one of the most human-like characters I've read.

Despite the protagonist duo taking the lead, the story meanders across different elements and we get to see the whole picture from different pov's and not just the protagonists. The protagonists themselves are very flawed and real. They do come across a bit OP, but we see them humble and their own students outgrowing them which make it very real.

Summary: TL;DR:

Highly recommended if you love a book with good characters, plot and enjoy all genres.

Take it slow and easy if you're just interested in fights/stats elevation and not so much into trade, city building etc etc. I'd say give this a try still.
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6