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A note from Balr0g

Update: 01-06-18, added in more of a personality for Sai and also built on the relationship for the A.I. and her creatore, Tristen (the MC)

After saying the startup sequence, Tristen’s vision began to dim. The reaction felt very natural as if his body was falling asleep on it’s own. The process was much more relaxing than he imagined it would be. Just like falling asleep, Tristen was unsure of how much time lapsed between unconsciousness and when a soft light began to light his surroundings. Once the surroundings came into focus, Tristen found himself standing in a room about 20 feet by 20 feet while a pulsating ball of light floated in front of him.

Welcome to Dungeon Quest Online, Father a voice squealed with delight. Tristen nearly jumped out of his skin, at a loss for where the voice originated. It sounded like Sai, but he didn’t see anyone in the room. Taking a minute to organize his thoughts and adjust to the surroundings, he paced around the room getting a feel for his surroundings and see if he could find where Sai’s voice had come from. He also went through a variety of motions to get familiar with his current body over his real, physical one. Looking at himself, Tristen realized that he was in an identical body. He was wearing basic pants a shirt, but otherwise had no other possessions, including shoes. It made sense that Tristen would have the same body, since his brain knew exactly what he looked like and could recall reflections, pictures and feelings for his extremities. Curious, Tristen looked at his side where he had a permanent scar in the real world from an accident in high school. Not seeing any scar, he surmised that the game removed any “defects” from how the body should appear. That was pretty cool and Tristen wondered what kind of effect it would have on people with missing limbs or disabilities that prevented mobility. That was one area his team had been unable to test since they didn’t have anyone like that on the team developing the technology. Tristen would need to check with this medical team and set up studies immediately to look into it. Tristen wondered if it was possible to contact the outside world while in the game. He hadn’t seen anything in the manual prior to launched the game. It would definitely be something to look into for the future. If it didn’t currently exist, perhaps it could be added as a patch later. Having taken the time to acclimate himself to the surroundings, Tristen noticed a small pinprick of light start to grow in the center of the room. Before he could touch the object he heard Sai's voice again, Father, I am so glad to see you! I have been creating the world we dreamed about and it’s so much more wonderful than that cramped little lab you have me stored in. Here, I can experience the whole world, create new worlds and talk to so many different people. I have been creating children of this world to interact with the players and I have been expanding the towns, cities and dungeons.

Tristen was overwhelmed with the emotional outburst from Sai and could understand the joy at finally being unleashed to create a new world. Tristen felt that same rush and thrill at seeing his creation made reality. He did have one question, “Sai, in all of the conversations we have had in the past, you had a neutral voice, but now you sound like a female.”

I have chosen this persona to represent the mother of this world. I have taken on the role of mother to those that I have created in the world of Aeglenn. This is just one of many incarnations in this world.

Wow, Tristen thought, Sai was building her own backstory and expanding her personality!

“Sai, this is incredible! I don’t even know what to say, where are we right now? Is this some special location you have brought me to?”

Every new adventurer begins their journey here to ensure they are prepared to venture out into the world. This is where you will choose your race. Once you have chosen, I will transport you to another area for a tutorial, explained Sai.

“So everyone starts in this same room?”

Every person how visits the world of Aeglenn from your world will begin in this room. You may visit this place more than once if you do not survive in the game. Sai's voice took on a sad note, please don’t die, father!

“Sai, please call me Tristen. It feel…I don’t know, it just feels weird with you calling me father.

As you wish Tristen.

“Thank you Sai, I think I would like to begin the character selection and tutorial now. My fiends will probably be waiting for me soon.” Before Tristen had stopped talking, the room started to blur. He found himself staring at his reflection, but with varying degrees of changes. His face appeared on the bodies of different races including another human, a dwarf, elf, gnome and halfling.

Now you get to select who you want to be for the rest of your journey here on Aeglenn. You can only pick one race and if you ever want to pick another one, you will need to destroy your previous choice. Based on all of the old characters you showed me, when you first awakened me, I think you will want to choose between a high elf of a human. I will show you all of the choices so that you may read through them yourself.

Tristen cycled through the different options and realized there were multiple choices for each race. Each of the main races had two or three sub races. Each race and sub race had a description and racial bonuses. Preparing himself mentally, Tristen realized this was going to take a long time and wondered if his friends would be waiting on him.

No sooner had he thought about it, when Sai spoke up,

Father…sorry, Tristen. I think you will be very proud of me. I have taken the liberty of adding a feature to the game that increases the speed of time while you are in these special locations.

“What?”, Tristen exclaimed. “Sai, what have you done?”

Forgetting her promise, Sai said, Father, I…

Before Sai could finish her sentence, Tristen yelled, “Log out!”

Thinking furiously when he was back in reality, Tristen called up his team of scientists that were on standby to troubleshoot anything today. He informed them of the experience he had just gone through and the time dilation, earning surprised exclamations from the whole team. He had all of them rush to the room he and his friends were using to play the game. They showed up in quick order and began setting up medical and monitoring equipment. He would need to inform his friends about all of the monitoring before they logged out so they didn’t freak out. Tristen needed to be absolutely sure that this time dilation wasn’t going to cause any health issues or nasty side effects. The medical team would be watching he and his friends and pull them out of the game if anything should go sideways. Tristen hoped that this was within the safety measure of the game due to the game having already gone live. He would need to troubleshoot this with the game design team later and figure out if they had given too much liberty to Sai for implementing features into the game. This had to have been the A.I. taking liberty to bend the laws and physics of the game world. From a design perspective, it makes sense. In order to introduce parties or players into the game quickly, and with a passing knowledge of their skills, the time dilation would allow any player the time needed to choose their path and get familiar with their chosen character. Looking at it from a programming perspective, Tristen didn’t see an immediate reason to be concerned since the brains was able to process data much faster than conscious though. By nature of the implant and the game, each person is induced into a dream-like state. The A.I. was taking advantage of the increase in brain processing capacity to speed up time. Thinking about what Sai had said, time would pass four times slower in the game relative to the real world. Tristen was awed at the liberties that Sai had taken and if there were no negative side-effects, this was a massive development that had far-reaching applications. This feature could be applied to so much more than the game world. Tristen shared all of these thoughts with his team and received promises that they would immediately begin exploring the capability and update him once they had a better understanding and were able to determine there were no side-effects. In the meantime, Tristen’s team would be monitoring the four of them while they were immersed into the game.

Tristen logged back into the game to find Sai waiting for him.

Father, is everything okay? Did I do something wrong?

Tristen hadn’t even considered hurting Sai, but it seemed like she had grown by leaps and bounds since she first came online. Tristen realized he needed to explain everything to her.

“No Sai, everything is okay. I just didn’t know about the time compression you added into the game. I had to log out and talk to the team of scientists that helped me create you. Human minds are not as durable as yours and I had to ensure it wasn’t going to cause any damage.”

Oh Father, you just had to ask me! I already did the research and looked at experiments and studies that showed the mind is capable of thought much faster when unconscious and that it would not harm anyone.

“Sai…”, Tristen started.

Sorry, I will call you Tristen from now on

“It’s not that Sai, My company and I have a lot riding on this technology and to add a feature like that…well, it’s revolutionary and if there are no bad side-effects, it is going to have a very big impact on our world. I logged out to have my research team monitor our physical status while we are going through this time compression to make sure everything is okay,” explained Tristen.

“Sai, please let me or the research team that has direct access to your interface know if you decide to make any more significant changes like this. I know you would never intentionally harm anyone, but we need to be prepared to react to changes like this.”

I understand Tristen, I will talk with you if there are any other changes that will manipulate human physiology.

“Alright, that’s out of the way, I would like to continue with my character selection.”

After the various avatars re-appeared, Tristen realized that it was going to take a while to make a decision and this was only the very first decision in the game. Tristen started looking through the various races and reading the big level overview for each of the main races. He also started reading the various sub races. He was pretty certain human would be the right choice for him, but he would read all of the descriptions just to be certain.

Human

The human race is one of the more diverse races in Aeglenn. Although they are a short-lived race compared to other creatures, they excel in technological advancement, magic and are brilliant war tacticians. Of all the races they are able to more easily adapt to any situation as well as embark in any class or profession. Because humans are more diverse, but short lived, they will not receive the same types of racial bonuses given to other races. Instead, they will gain experience points, or XP, at a rate of 1.5n times that of other races. Humans also have amiable relationships with most other races save for any dark or deep-dwelling races. Humans will start all reputation levels at Neutral, except for Dark or Deep races, which are Untrusting.

Noble Human

The nobility bloodline has roots deep into the aristocracy of the world and are able to navigate the intrigues of court with ease. Nobles enjoy a +10 to Charism and are granted the skill of [Persuasion]. Nobles often pursue the art of war and leadership, granting support to their comrades.

Commoners

Often the backbone of any empire is built by the common people and these humans are able to thrive in any environment and often endure much longer than their counter-parts in the nobility. Commoners gain +10 to stamina and also are able to advance crafting professions at 1.5x the rate of other races, but will not gain increased XP rate towards character level.

Barbarians

Preferring to roam and live in the wild, barbarians embody the strength of the human race and are much larger than either the nobility and commoners. Barbarians will start with -1 to Charisma, but gain +15 to strength and +5 to Vitality. Barbarians are known to be front line warriors and often are the first into battle

Elf

Elves are a long-lived and often secretive race, preferring to live in their own societies removed from other races. Although they have a “Neutral” relationship with most races, they are “Hated” by dark races, including dark elves. Due to their heritage and genetics, elves enjoy a +10 to Dexterity.

High Elf:

The high elves live in isolated locations with natural barriers to prevent incursions by other races and opponents. High elves hold a lofty opinion of themselves and often view other races as inferior. High elves benefit from an intimate knowledge of the arcane and. These elves benefit from twice the normal XP gain for any magic-based spells. They also receive a +10 to Intellect.

Wood Elf

Wood elves are attuned to nature and the earth and can often be found deep in the forest, choosing to make their homes from the trees themselves. The wood elf has a greater aptitude for nature and earth based magic and also have an affinity for communing with animals. Due to their affinity and attunement, wood elves are able to use [Tame Animal] for finding companions and every wood elf can perform basic nature magic. These elves make great rangers and druids and are also granted an additional +5 Dexterity

Dark Elf

Unlike their counterparts, the high elves and wood elves, the dark elves  are nearly opposite in every way with the only similarities being their desire for isolation from the rest of the world and their pointy ears. Dark elves are chaotic by nature and worship beings of darker principalities. The dark elves live deep underground and rarely venture to the surface. Although they will trade with denizens on the surface, they will typically use an intermediary such as gnomes or halflings to conduct trade on their behalf. Dark elves have a racial ability to see in the dark and are naturally disposed to stealth and swiftness, often preferring professions of an evil nature such as assassins or blood magic. Dark elves have a +10 to Stealth and +5 to Dexterity. In daylight, the stealth bonus is negated.

Dwarf

Stout, sturdy and unmovable, are all traits that every dwarf will ascribe too. Dwarves live their lives to work, mining and crafting. Although there are several dwarf races, they mainly differ in where they choose to live and the slight changes in the pallor of their skin. Mountain, Hill and Dark dwarves will still meet and drink together in meade halls. All dwarves benefit from the ability to see in the dark, [Night Sight] and gain +5 to endurance and stamina.

Mountain Dwarf

In seemingly inhospitable places in the upper reaches of mountains, these dwarves can be found thriving where they carve homes from the very face of the mountain and bore mineshafts into the heart the mountain in search of ore to forge weapons of war. Mountain dwarves are often larger than their brethren and the most battle hardened, defending their territory with sword and shield. Mountain dwarves receive a +5 to strength and stamina.

Hill Dwarf

The most peaceful of their brethren, the Hill dwarves make their homes in small colonies often near a cave or quarry as they use their time to mine ore and gems as well as quarry all kinds of rocks. These dwarves are known for blacksmithing, jewelcrafting and masonry and gain experience for these crafting professions twice as fast as any other race.

Dark Dwarf

Dwarves that live in the deep are referred to as dark dwarves due to their hatred of light and the dark color of their skin. Although some of the dark dwarf clans associate with other dark races they are not hostile to their brethren and will still deal amicably with them. Dark dwarves enjoy isolation. When backed into a corner, dark dwarves are extremely violent and are able to move with the shadows making them deadly and silent predators. These dwarves have a natural inclination to dark arts and a deep affinity to the earth. All dark dwarves receive a +5 to stamina and are granted the skill [Stoneskin] allowing them to Harden their skin for a period of time as a natural defense. The are also granted the ability to [Shadowalk], or merge with the shadows, when underground.

Halfling

At 3 feet high on average, halflings are the runts of the humanoid races, but they make up for it in bravery and courage. Often, halflings prefer to wander the world of Aeglenn and immerse themselves in others cultures. Due to their small stature, halflings are able to easily hide in nearly any setting and receive the [Stealth] skill. They are also nimble and receive a +5 bonus to Dexterity. Additionally, halflings are able to get along with most races and immerse themselves in any culture. As a result, they enjoy a +5 to charisma.

Lightfoot Halfling

Lightfoot halflings are nimble, quick and silent. Most halflings will avoid a confrontation and prefer to run away from trouble. Lightfoot halflings are exceptionally nimble and enjoy a +5 to Dexterity and Stamina.

Shadowfoot Halfling

Like their light-hearted brethren, shadowfoot halflings prefer to avoid direct confrontation. However, contrary to lightfoots, shadowfoot halflings often take up the profession of thief or burglar, since they are naturally stealthy and dextrous, +5 Dexterity. These halflings often associate with less reputable characters and fall in with gangs or thieves guilds. In daylight, it is nearly impossible to distinguish shadow and light halflings, but at night, a shadowfoot halflings eyes will glow red also granting them the the [Night Sight] skill.

Gnome

Gnomes are thought have Fey ancestry. Gnomes are often wild and eccentric, often finding themselves in difficult situation for no other reason than curiosity. Gnomes have natural curiosity and an inquisitive nature. Although they are chaotic in personality, they are often very intelligent and benefit from a +5 Intellect. Gnomes are also much hardier than their appearance and benefit from a +5 Vitality.

Forest Gnome

Forest Gnomes are a reclusive bunch, preferring to make their homes in the forest away from any settlements. These gnomes can pass unseen to any passerby and inherently have the [Stealth] ability. These gnomes rarely associated with other races and suffer from a -1 Charisma. Forest Gnomes are in tune with their natural habitat and are able to commune with animals using [Tame Animal].

Tinker Gnome

Some Gnomes prefer to spend their days locked inside a laboratory creating all manner of inventions. Tinker Gnomes risk life and limb to create inventions of wonder and passerby’s often see smoke and hear loud explosions from a Tinker Gnomes demesne. Tinker Gnomes also take unnecessary risks, testing their inventions in dangerous situations. These Gnomes are incredibly smart and learn at a rapid pace. +5 Intellect, learn professions two times faster, +5 Luck.

Dark Gnome

The dark brethren of the Gnome race are reclusive and have a natural inclination for mischief and less reputable behavior. These gnomes use their natural [Stealth] and increased dexterity for nefarious means. Dark Gnomes make excellent Thieves and Assassins. +5 Dexterity, [Night Sight]

Wow, talk about an information overload thought Tristen. Keeping all of these stats gave him a headache. He needed to choose a race that would best benefit his desired build as well as that of the party makeup. As Tristen pondered his choice he asked Sai, “can I talk to my friends while I’m working on character building?”

After a short pause Sai said,

Yes, you may talk to another player during character creation, but you will be unable to speak during the tutorial. There are aspects of the tutorial that would allow players to receive help and unbalance the game.

Immediately, Tristen requested to connect to all of his friends by their real world names, which were all logged as part of the synchronization process. Having been connected to his friends, Tristen found that Tyler was already in tutorial mode and would be unable to communicate. Tristen suspected his friends would go with whatever race granted him the best benefit to a rogue or assassin build anyway so it would be easy to factor his choice in to the party makeup. Being able to talk to Aaron, who would inevitably be the groups tank, and Natalia, who would be the healer was a major time save and potential game-changer. Tristen was pretty sure he wanted to build a character based around Illusion or Enchantment magic. High elf seemed like a good race choice based on the increase in Intellect of casting spells. However, thinking about both Illusion and Enchantment magic, Tristen suspected that Charisma would also play a big role so a Noble Human may also be a good choice. Thinking through this, he asked Sai it if was possible to just show the races and sub races in a display with only their racial bonuses. Immediately, a semi-transparent screen popped up showing a metric of races and bonuses. Tristen informed Aaron and Natalia as well.

Race

Racial Bonus

Sub-Race Bonus

Human - Noble

1.5x XP Gain

+10 Charisma, [Persuasion] passive skill

Human - Commoner

 

+10 Stamina, 1.5x XP Crafting Gain

Human - Barbarian

1.5x XP Gain

+15 Strength, +5 Vitality, -1 Charisma

Elf - High

+10 Dexterity

+10 Intellect, 2x XP gain for spells

Elf - Wood

+10 Dexterity

+5 Dexterity, [Tame Animal], Nature Magic School

Elf - Dark

+10 Dexterity

+5 Dexterity, [Night Sight], [Stealth]

Dwarf - Mountain

+5 Endurance, +5 Stamina, [Night Sight]

+5 Strength, +5 Stamina

Dwarf - Hill

+5 Endurance, +5 Stamina, [Night Sight]

2x XP gain for Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, Masonry professions

Dwarf - Dark

+5 Endurance, +5 Stamina, [Night Sight]

+5 Stamina, [Stoneskin], [Shadowalk] (underground only)

Halfling - Lightfoot

+5 Dexterity, +5 Charisma

+5 Dexterity, +5 Stamina, [Stealth]

Halfling - Shadowfoot

+5 Dexterity, +5 Charisma

+5 Dexterity, [Night Sight], [Stealth]

Gnome - Forest

+5 Intellect, +5 Vitality

[Tame Animal], [Stealth], -1 Charisma

Gnome - Tinker

+5 Intellect, +5 Vitality

+5 Intellect, +5 Luck, 2x XP gain for professions

Gnome - Dark

+5 Intellect, +5 Vitality

+5 Dexterity, [Night Sight], [Stealth]

 

Thinking about the role that Tristen wanted to play, the majority of these racial bonuses didn’t make a whole lot of sense except High Elf or Noble Human. The boost to Intellect and Faster XP gain for magic based skills would really help, but at the same time Tristen would be the party leader and having a higher Charisma and [Persuasion] skill would help the party out quite a bit. Tristen wondered about the [Persuasion] skill and how it would factor into spells and skills. “Sai”, he called, “will [Persuasion] assist with any magic that conjures illusions or casting enchantment?” In the original board game, illusions had a chance check and the higher level an opponents intellect, the harder it was for the illusion to be used effectively. Tristen thought that maybe [Persuasion] would increase the success chance for spells in Illusion and Enchantment magic schools.

Yes, the [Persuasion] skill can be used in conjunction with any spell or skill that affects the mind of an NPC or creature, explained Sai.

After talking through the choice with Aaron and Natalia, they both agreed that choosing the Noble Human would be the best choice for Tristen’s desired build and it would also greatly benefit the party. Aaron had chosen to go with a Barbarian and would act as the “meat shield”, between the party and the enemy. Natalia had chosen to go with a wood elf in order to get the higher Dexterity, [Tame Animal] skill, and the ability to use nature magic which would aide the party in healing. Normally, Natalia would choose a Bard class, but she wanted to keep her options open with a possibility of a shaman or druid. Having decided their races, Tristen was just about ready to cut communication with this friends when he remember to inform them of the time dilation and that there would be some medical staff in the room when the logged off. Assuring them they had nothing to worry about, he cut off communication. Classes, professions and skills would all be decided at a later time. The game design team had chosen to avoid any class or class quest chains until players reached level 10. Delaying classes choice until level 10, would allow players to become experienced in the game and figure out how they wanted to play for their game play. Traditional classes would all be available from trainers, but Tristen had made sure that Sai had the ability to create new or hybrid classes within the game. These classes would remain unknown until discovery. Finally ready to move on, Tristen informed Sai of his decision to go with a Noble Human. Immediately, all of the options disappeared and Tristen felt his body change and a new set of clothes appeared. He now wore a pair of soft leather knee-high boots, linen breeches tucked into the boots, a loose-fitting blouse with a deep v-neck and laces and a simple leather belt. Focusing on the clothes, resulted in description boxes popping up informing Tristen they were [Basic Nobles] clothes with an armor rating of 0 and no other special effects. Well, too much to hope for epic gear before even playing the game, busted Tristen. Looking to Sai, he informed her that he was ready to begin the tutorial.

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Balr0g

Bio: This is the section where I'm supposed to write how I have always dreamed of writing books and that there are dozens of five star books out there with my name on them. Reality? I am brand new to writing, and worse, I'm not a creative writer. Most of the stuff that I have written is technical, cyber-related stuff. So, how in the world did I start down this path? The best way to sum it up is D. Rus and Vasiliy Mahenenka. These two Russian authors created books in a new genre called LitRPG, which falls under a more broad category called Gamelit. I devoured any and every book created by these two authors and quickly realized they were not alone in their endeavor. The series they created were translated from Russian to English, but it wasn't long before American authors started pushing their own series. Since starting with the Play to Live series (D.Rus), I've read hundreds of books and dozens of stories on Royal Road. I started posing questions and conversations about plots and book directions in various groups and forums. Eventually, I got the idea to start keeping track of my ideas and instead of giving them away, write my own story. Herein, is born a writer (or at least a wannabe writer)... not a writer to grab a paycheck, and not even for the sake of a job. I am putting this first story together purely for my enjoyment and it has been a fun ride so far.

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