Darren opened the lid to his gaming pod and stretched with a groan. Though the pod prevented his muscles from atrophying or becoming too tight, a good stretch always felt nice. After a good few minutes of stretching, he climbed out of the pod and made his way directly to his bathroom. He wanted a nice long and hot shower. His shower spell inside of the game helped but it still had nothing on a real modern-day shower.
After refreshing himself in his shower, he made his way into his kitchen to cook some real food. The pod's systems provided his body with nutrients but it didn't actually fill his stomach so he always felt ravenous when logging out. It had been a little under four days in the real world since he last logged out. His stomach immediately gave out an angry growl the moment he first smelled his bacon and eggs cooking.
He enjoyed his food but because of being spoiled by the monster meat meals in AoG it felt a little lacking. He knew the food in AoG wasn't real, but it was hard not to compare when the taste was directly implanted into your brain and felt as real as anything he could eat when logged out. That was always a major pitfall with modern VRMMOs, it always ended with the real world feeling somewhat 'lacking' compared to the game world.
Despite all of that, virtual reality had been a major boon for the whole world, not just the entertainment industry. After all, who wouldn't want to be able to hang out with their friends for several hours getting blind drunk, then leaving the VR room and being completely sober with no hangover? The same could be said for drug use. Hell, it was possible to create drugs that couldn't possibly exist in the real world or take doses of existing drugs that would flat out kill you in reality. The truth was, the advent of VR had brought about massive change throughout the world.
Of course, it wasn't all good. There had been people who became addicted to VR and felt like they couldn't live without it. Some industries, such as the alcohol industry, had seen a large drop in their income as people switched to drinking within VR to avoid the consequences of drinking in the real world. The industry would never die out completely as people continued to drink in reality as well, but it had shrunk to less than half of what it had been. It was always a dance of positives and negatives when a new world-changing technology was created and VR had been no exception.
After he finished eating his meal, Darren sat down in front of his computer terminal and checked his email. Last time he logged out he'd sent messages to his few friends and let them know where he was and what he was doing. His closest, and probably best, friend Jeff had replied. Jeff was in a country called Lodoy. Lodoy was a relatively small country located at the southern end of the second continent. That placed Jeff across an ocean and a fair distance from Darren so it would be a long time before they could meet up.
The second friend to reply was a man named Micheal. Micheal was in a country called Lotenia which was directly south of Kjersia. That put him a lot closer to Darren than Jeff, leaving just a single country between them instead of several countries and an ocean. Still, it wasn't like he was just around the corner and if he was to make his way over to Reykohoten it would still take a significant amount of time.
The last friend to reply was one of his few female friends, Yuna. He'd met her in the last game he played and while they'd had a relationship in the game they'd only been friends in reality. Her husband likely wouldn't appreciate him trying to have a real-world relationship with her. She was currently in the capital of Kjersia, Feldera. Which put her as the closest to him. Still, she was too far away for them to meet up anytime soon.
Given how early it still was in the game and that Darren hadn't founded a shop or started making powerful gear, none of them would be willing to take the time to travel toward his location to meet up with him. There was also a chance of them finding faster modes of transportation than just horses as their power grew so it was more efficient to just gain experience where they were and travel later when it was easier and more worthwhile.
Darren was probably the only one among his friends who could actually fly and even then he probably couldn't fly for very long given his Endurance attribute. He could maybe fly for a kilometer or two before he would be exhausted, but that was just speculation. Once he left Ulvstad to explore he would give his flying a try and see how well it really worked.
After sending some replies back to his friends, Darren switched to the forums for AoG to browse around. The boat trip to Ulvstad would take about two days so that gave him twelve hours to do whatever he wanted. Logging out always felt a bit like time travel to him yet at the same time it always made him feel a little rushed in his time while logged out.
The very first thing Darren did was a search for people who complained about their race being changed on accident or against their will. Shockingly, he found over a thousand threads about it. Clearly, he was not the first person for this to happen to. He opened the thread with the largest number of views and replies and after reading it, he felt significantly better about his race.
Hi. I'm not usually someone who likes to bring their complaints to the court of public opinion but I have a serious problem with my race being forced to change. When I started playing Age of Gods I decided to be a warrior and work my way towards becoming a Paladin. Since Holy magic is only granted by gods I joined a church and started working with them to increase my reputation and work towards unlocking Holy magic. As part of my journey, I was given a task to investigate why dead villagers were being revived as zombies and skeletons. To make a long story short, the villain was a Lich who captured me and used his Unholy magic and a ritual to turn me into a Revenant.
This goes completely against my desired goal in the game and has made all of my previous work into a complete waste. If I go anywhere near a city, town, or village the locals go batshit crazy and do everything in their power to kill me. The church I joined has denounced me and even placed a bounty on my head. This whole thing is completely ruining my gaming experience and making it nearly impossible for me to play. I've even been forced to kill players and NPC's trying to claim the bounty on my head. This is the complete antithesis of the gaming experience I desired.
I am not asking for anything special or for compensation of any sort. I just want to be human again. So please, just change my race back to human.
There were many replies to the thread, many expressing their empathy for his situation. Wanting to be a paladin but becoming an undead would make anyone upset. There were also replies from people that were not constructive to the situation. Even after a few centuries trolls and assholes still thrived on the internet. Looking further through the thread, Darren found a reply from one of the AI administrators.
We're sorry to hear about your situation. There is nothing we are able to do to resolve your situation. When you signed the agreement to play Age of Gods you consented to play in a living world where anything could happen including, but not limited to, having your race changed. Though you did not consent to it in the moment, you did consent to it when you signed your agreement to play Age of Gods.
Fear not! Though you are in a tough situation you do have several paths open before you. Though it will not be easy, it is possible for you to find a way to revert your race back to Human. Alternatively, you could embrace your new race and instead became an Unholy Paladin by seeking out a dark church and working with them to unlock Unholy magic just as you were working to unlock Holy magic previously. Lastly, you could delete your character and begin again, though if you do so you will lose one of your Innate Abilities. If you only have a single Innate Ability then it will have its maximum grade set to A.
Again, we are sorry about your situation and we are sorry we can not do anything to directly change it. We hope that you will consider our suggestions and remember that the suggestions we offered are not the only paths you may take. Your life in Age of Gods is yours to live and just as it is in reality, sometimes things will not go as you hope or plan. We wish you the best in making your own path forward.
After reading the reply from the AI, Darren crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in his chair. He really hated to admit it, but the AI had a point. A major part of AoG's marketing campaign was talking about how the game was a living world where the actions of players did have a real effect on the world. It wasn't a game where everyone could talk to an NPC with a marker over its head that constantly said the same lines while giving out the same quest over and over again.
If AoG was going to be a true living and realistic world then things were going to happen that the players had no choice about. The real world could be exceedingly cruel and unpredictable. Just one natural disaster could have a massive impact that could be felt by millions. Or, as in the case of Darren, one patch of ice could claim the life of your parents when you are just a child. If AoG wanted to be more than a game, to be a real world of its own then bad things were going to happen to good people with no rhyme or reason.
Darren sighed and dismissed such depressing thoughts from his mind. He logged off of the AoG forums. They had made him too depressed to bother looking through them for any more information. He needed to focus on something else, something he could get a little excited about. He pulled up his favorite search engine and started to research a topic that would be very important in his near future. Guns!
He wanted to start with something simple and basic, but still useful. He ignored ancient black powder rifles and went for slightly less ancient single action revolvers. He wanted to start with a cartridge based firearm as they were less messy and much easier to reload. He could even design speedloaders and keep them in his storage items or inventory for lightning fast reloads. Eventually, he wanted to get to the point of making purely magically powered firearms but he had to start somewhere to get some experience and a single action revolver seemed like a good place to start.
He spent a little time looking over diagrams, measurements, and videos of a basic revolver. He had a good memory but it wasn't photographic so he needed to study for a while to make sure he could remember as much as possible. Even if he made mistakes there was an easy low-tech way to test the gun without the risk of blowing himself up. String! He could just place the gun in a vice or clamp and use a string to pull the trigger from a safe distance away. Once he felt like he had a good enough understanding of the revolver he started looking into more advanced weapons.
Darren browsed around looking at coilguns, or as they were better known Gauss rifles! Though they were far more complex than a single action revolver and required extremely precise timing, he could power it entirely with Lightning magic and it wouldn't require a power source or capacitors. This would let him shave a ton of weight and electronics out of the Gauss rifle, however, the timing would be nearly impossible for him to do manually as the coils had to be powered within milliseconds of each other in order to pull the ferromagnetic projectile down the barrel. This was something he would need a lot more time to work on before he would be able to even think of creating it.
Maybe there was a simpler solution he could come up with in the future. Until then, he would focus on making the revolver and improving on Hekrin's inheritance. He didn't know enough yet to know if he even had enough mana for something like a Gauss rifle to be efficient. If shooting it just once took a huge chunk of his mana then what was the point of even using it? Darren switched back to looking at revolvers and broadening his knowledge on them. They would have to be where he started, he could look into Gauss rifles and similar weapons again in the future.