“Check this out,” James said as he tossed a dusty book on the bar in front of Torunn.
The new Martyr Chieftain scooped up the book and flipped a few pages before growling that he couldn’t read it.
“Neither can I. I can’t even tell what language it is in, but get this. There is a HUGE room full of books like that below this cabin,” James told a confused Torunn, “there was a locked door in the basement that we couldn’t open before. When I went to get the fruit to make cider I had the idea of breaking the lock with my new short sword. Well, it turned out to be a good idea! The lock broke and I uncovered a sub-basement. It’s a cavernous room completely filled with books!”
“Interesting,” Torunn said, while somehow managing to look entirely not interested.
“This means we are living above a secret library! Can you imagine what we could learn once we figure out how to read the books? What if they are spells or building plans? What if they have some information on Frode’s prophecy or why everyone from my world was transported into this world?” James said as he waved his hands in the air.
“Sounds like trouble,” Torunn growled.
James tisked, “Sounds like answers to me.”
James looked around the cabin for someone else to share his excitement with, but all the Earth humans were either still asleep or moping around like zombies. With a sigh, James started the process of making more cider and opened up his notification icon that had been raging in the corner of his vision for a few days.
James – Level 22 (3 levels gained since last open)
Constitution, Level 12 – Controls how much health you have and the rate at which you regain health.
Strength, Level 15 – Affects your ability to use weapons, lift objects, and your size.
Endurance, Level 9 – Controls how much energy you have.
Agility, Level 9 – Controls your movement abilities in battle, dodge, critical strikes, and unarmed combat damage.
Will, Level 10 – Affects your ability to tap into health, endurance, and mana reserves.
Intelligence, Level 34 – Controls the data you can gather from your interface, the world, and how much mana you have.
Wisdom, Level 31 – Controls the rate at which you gain all types of experience, and more.
6 statistic points ready to distribute.
“Holy shit,” James said in response to the bombardment of prompts in front of him. The strength buff from Dreng’s statue and the plus four increase to all of his stats from his short sword caused him to reach level ten and above in a bunch of his stats.
Congratulations! Your constitution has surpassed level 10. Your health now regenerates at an increased rate.
Congratulations! Your strength has surpassed level 10. You can now use Great weapons with increased success.
Congratulations! Your will has surpassed level 10. You will no longer go into shock after receiving too much damage.
Congratulations! Your wisdom has surpassed level 30. You now have access to the Adventurers Interface.
James rechecked his stat definitions after reading his new prompts and realized they changed accordingly. Slowly, but surely, James was discovering the true definition of what each stat did. His strength increase was rather considerable, and as James looked around he realized he was indeed bigger. The people around him, including Torunn and the sleeping red-head, no longer seemed like hulking figures to James. They were still huge compared to normal human sizes, but they weren’t so impressive and threatening to him anymore. James didn’t notice the increase in his own size before the prompt reminded him of it. He figured that the people that seemed so impressive to him before were just less so because he was becoming more comfortable with himself. James thought he was coming into his own style and place in the world, so he no longer wanted to subconsciously cower to those that were larger than him. He thought he was just getting more confident as a leader. He had gotten more confident, but the strength and resulting size increase were the true reason why his friends no longer looked so threatening to him. Even more important than no longer feeling small in front of his friends was the fact that he finally had access to all of his health. He no longer needed to fear going into shock or passing out during battle because he took too much damage. Above all else, this was an improvement that James had been wanting for a long time.
The only thing that kept James from investing into strength to increase his survivability in the first place was the fact that Wisdom offered him the opportunity to get more experience and level up faster. His original plan was to invest in Wisdom for a while to give him an edge until he learned more about the other statistics. When he did learn more, he realized that both intelligence and wisdom offered him improvements and additions to his interface. He could have changed his strategy then, but the improvements to his interface were too valuable.
James pulled up his interface to investigate just how valuable his newest improvement would be. A semi-translucent screen materialized in his vision. The same familiar tabs of equipment, statistics, skills, and inventory were still available, but now there was more. His builder and party leader interfaces now had their own tabs. The new additions would be more convenient, but James was disappointed that he didn’t see an adventures tab. Just as James was about to exit the menu out of frustration, he noticed a compass in the upper right corner of his interface that had never been there before.
James was strangely ecstatic over the new feature in his interface. It seemed like such a small tool, but it was terrible to rely on the sun for direction when he needed to know where to go. He even remembered wondering if he could tell the direction from the moon at night once or twice, but never got a definitive answer and of course, he couldn’t google it. The compass was certainly a welcome upgrade, but James’s was even happier for what he found after he mentally clicked on the compass for more information.
“A map!” James yelled out loud, causing more than a few grumbles to escape from the masses sleeping on the cabin floor.
A square map enlarged itself over James’s vision. He could see the bird’s eye view of his village, just like in the builder's interface, but this map moved with him. When James took a step, the map around James's dot moved. James studied the map and realized it had the words, “share” at the bottom of it. James mentally clicked on the words and his interface fell away.
Confused at his sudden change of perspective, James squinted his eyes in an effort to focus on his real surroundings. Torunn was staring at him with an amused grin.
“You dropped something,” was all the Martyr said before returning to his work.
James looked down and realized a physical version of his map rested on his feet. He excitedly picked it up. It was an exact replica of the map from his interface. After some more experimentation, James found out that the physical copy of his map didn’t have his position marker on it, nor did it update in any way. He also figured out that he could share his map numerous times, and essentially print them. On a hunch, James re-invited Torunn to his party and found that his party member’s had markers on his interface map as well. He figured his party became disbanded when he entered the spirit battleground for the second time. This meant that if he got too far from his party or a member of his party got too far from him they would be automatically ejected from the party. He couldn’t be sure of the distance he had to work with there, but the map could still come in handy in the future. He would be able to tell where his party members were if they ever left his range of vision and he would be able to print out maps to assist in various missions.
He only had one concern left. He had to figure out if the map gave him more information on the Great Savanna or the world beyond it. James immediately ran out of the cabin, jumping over a few piles of furs in the process and running the risk of letting his cider brew too long.
James stepped through the stone archway guarding his village and entered the snowy Great Savanna. Pulling up his map once again, James gasped at what he saw.
The map zoomed out from his village and showed the entire Great Savanna. Unfortunately, it didn’t show every important location and feature in the zone, but it did show him the places he had traveled to personally. It also showed him the borders of the Great Savanna. James was in awe of just how massive it was. Every visible location that showed were James’s had traveled took up less than a quarter of the map and still have uncovered areas between them. Even the long journey he took to the village with Patrick and Torunn for the first time only uncovered a meager portion of the map. James calculated that he would have to make a journey four times as long if he wanted to reach the other side of the zone, and that was only if he went in a straight line.
James studied the borders of the map, which were shown as impassible mountains, and then exited his interface. Staring out across the Great Savanna, James couldn’t even see the mountains that were supposed to be just across from him. More than ever, James felt a sudden urge to explore the lands beyond the Great Savanna.
James arrived back at the cabin just in time to finish his new batch of cider and was pleased to see people had started to wake up. Torunn was busy handing out hangover cures so James figured he didn’t have to socialize right away and continued to check his interface prompts. He knew he still had some new notifications, thanks to the relentlessly blinking notification icon, and he still had six statistic points he had to spend.
Looking over his stats once again, James’s eyes were caught on the definition of intelligence. It said that the stat controlled how much information James could gather from the world. Wouldn’t that have meant that he should have gotten the compass and map from increasing his intelligence instead of wisdom? James thought on that for a long while before he came to a number of conclusions. The first and foremost was that being trapped in a game world where the rules were not readily available was extremely frustrating.
“Why would anyone willingly play a game like this?” James asked himself. The thought process lead James to question if the game was even ever meant to be played. Now that he thought about it, he bet it wasn’t made to be played in the normal sense at all. The fact that the military was developing it added merit to that thought process. Why would the military design a game that didn’t even instruct you on how to play? It was a though that bother James since he entered.
If this was ever an actual game, I would have to reach whatever the max level was just to figure out what all my statistic points did and by that point, it wouldn’t even matter, James thought.
James’s second concern was the fact that the Intelligence stat said it would increase the amount of information he got from the world, but in fact, James hadn’t seen much proof to that. Sure, he got some cool new interfaces, but he still had to come up with his own names for the new creatures he came across. It would be great if he saw something and the correct name tag appeared above it along with some basic information.
Literally, every other role-playing game in the world had an inspect option; James thought, flabbergasted that this game didn’t have that option.
With a forced breath of air, James tried to let go of his frustrations. This game was his home now so there was no use comparing it to other games. He, along with the entirety of humanity, was trapped here now. This was essentially his Earth, so getting frustrated with how the game worked would be like getting frustrated at gravity. James just had to accept everything and try to learn as much as he could along the way. If he wanted correct nametags to appear above things, James would have to figure out how to make that happen, instead of complaining about it.
James added a point each into Endurance and Agility to bring them both up to level ten and dumped the rest into Intelligence.
Congratulations! Your endurance has surpassed level 10. Your endurance now regenerates at an increased rate.
Congratulations! Your agility has surpassed level 10. You are now slightly less affected by character controlling abilities.
This is all well and good, James thought, but what in the world controls mana regain?
If his endurance stat controlled the rate at which he regained endurance points, then wouldn’t his intelligence or wisdom stats increase his mana regain? James thought back and was positive that he never got a prompt saying he now regained mana at an increased rate. Then he remembered his class options. He did get offered the option to choose a mage class, which unlocked mana regain skills. Did that mean that the only way to increase his mana regain was to choose a class? It couldn’t be. If he remembered correctly, James also got the option to choose a warrior class that offered endurance regain skills. It all made exactly zero sense.
James’s brain was utterly fried at all the new information and questions. He exited his interface and checked on his kettle of cider brewing by the fire.
“Thank the game gods, it’s finished,” James said as he lovingly scooped some cider into a mug. He posted up at the bar and let the mug warm his hands. It was an oddly calming sensation, probably due to the many times James’s had stood in that exact position with a warm cup of coffee in his hands. There was no coffee in his new world, but the cider was damn good, if not better.
The cabin was slowly coming to life with a buzz of chatter and movement. Thankfully, no one was in the mood to chat with him just then. James knew he would probably be busy smoothing over the concerns of his new villagers over the next few days, but James was content enough not to seek out those problems at the moment.
Finally, James’s cider was cool enough to drink, so he took a sip. The tart liquid warmed his body on its way down and James was filled with newfound motivation. His mind was abuzz with things he could do and with problems he could solve. James channeled that motivation into his most recent concerns over his statistics, his interface, and the mechanics of the world in general. With his new moral increase, James was able to overcome his complaints and frustrations and see the path that would help him get answers. The time for grumbling was over. He would take action, and so would everyone else.
“Alright Lazy Bones, everyone get up!” James yelled after downing the rest of his cider, “Everyone up and outside to the training area. Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”