A week had passed since first logging into Dungeon Quest Online and Tristen was incredibly antsy to get back into the game. His competitive nature was yammering at him as he saw updates in the media and other people leading the charge within the game, He hadn’t been able to get back in game since the tutorial while taking care of real-world issues. His friends had told him they spent a bit more time in the game, but had largely been committed to real-world obligations the past week as well. Although the tutorial itself was incredibly realistic and fun, it seemed a pale comparison to the reports he had read and the interviews showing gamers excitedly talking about their experiences. Unfortunately, there was no way for non-players to see what the game world was like. Only word of mouth descriptions allowed insight and as a result there had been a ton of interviews conducted to get a picture about this mysterious new virtual world. Tristen thought a streaming feed to game play was a great idea if they didn’t mind the invasion of privacy. While he was thinking about it, he composed a quick email to his development team asking them to look into the possibility of a live stream option. Although there was no monetization of in-game currency or injection of real-world cash into the game, it was definitely an area Tristen planned to research. Streaming was another avenue where players could earn a living and it seemed like a fairly easy tweak to allow. Tristen planned on spending the majority of time in game with his friends and he didn’t want countless unknown, faceless people tagging along for the ride. Maybe some people would use it and earn some cash, but it definitely wasn’t something he desired.

Although, there was no transfer of currency between the game and the real world, selling in-game items for real-world cash was not discouraged. If a player wanted to risk getting scammed for the chance at better gear that risk was on their head, but it was noted in the official Dungeon Quest Online disclaimers that the activity was not officially supported and any monetary loss was not the responsibility for Sai Enterprises. Eventually, seamless transactions between the game and real-world would be possible using some type currency or crypto-currency, but it would require more more research and development before it was realized. Perhaps Tristen would make the development of a stable crypto-currency his next big project. The problem with creating an entirely new currency would be the implications on the economy. Tristen believed that in order to develop a currency for the game that could be transferred to the real world, he would first need to work on making it mainstream and widely accepted. Right now, there was too much volatility for the digital currency’s that already existed. It was definitely an area to think about. However, right now, Tristen was more interested in just experiencing the game world for himself.

The time had finally come to leave real-world concerns behind for a while and meet up with his friends in game. They had parted ways shortly after finishing the tutorial and planned to meet up the following weekend. Coincidentally, it was the same time and day they had always met up to play Dungeon Quest growing up. Although his friends had logged some time in the game world already, this was Tristen’s first time so he planned to log into the game a few hours before the meet up. He wanted to get the basics out of the way and familiarize himself with the starting location. No doubt, he was going to be walking around the game with a stupefied expression on his face, completely engrossed in experiencing everything. The reason for his absence from the game for a week, was so he could prioritize real-world obligations and get his company stabilized after launch day. He really wanted to dedicate some time to playing the game, but needed to ensure his company wouldn’t implode while he was off in fantasy land. Although Tristen and his team had prepared a lot of hype and enthusiasm with the technology and game, he had vastly underestimated just how popular it would become. The company had needed to drastically ramp up manufacturing , going so far as to retro-fit additional manufacturing facilities in different countries to streamline the process. Tristen’s production team had also increased the number of server farms and bandwidth for online sales and game downloads. The global acceptance of the game and the chips were staggering. If Tristen had any doubts about leading a technical revolution, they had firmly evaporated with the days following the launch.

Sitting back into his gaming chair, Tristen logged into the game.

“Dungeon Quest Begin!”

As Tristen’s vision went dark he settled back into the chair, excited about the adventure to come! Slowly, the world around him began to materialize. Opening his eyes, Tristen found himself lying on a bed in a small room that looked something like an inn from an old medieval film. Sitting up, he marveled at the detail of the room. Everything looked, smelled, and felt real. He had been able to get a feel for some of this in the tutorial, but he had mostly been in a stripped down area with no character. Seeing his surroundings now, it felt like he had gone to sleep in his gaming chair and woke up transported mind and body and he was just waking up from the dream that is reality. He reached out to feel the wooden posts on the bed and was unable to distinguish the virtual object from reality. Looking around the room, the furnishings were very sparse and the only items beside the bed included a nightstand with a candle and a small chest at the foot of the bed. Tristen had no idea where he was located, but based on the lack of furnishings and complete lack of anything noteworthy, he assumed it was some type of starter location. Thinking about the room he was in, Tristen was rewarded with a notification window.

Adventurers Basic Lodging

Current Owner: Tristen

Every adventurer in Aeglenn is granted basic living quarters in the [Adventurers Hall]. Any items you wish to store will remain in this room and be accessible only to the owner of the room. The room will be marked permanently on your map

Curious, Tristen pulled up his map only to find this room and a small hallway just outside the door. Everything else around the room and hallway was darkened. He must be in some kind of instanced area. It made sense from a design perspective, since there wouldn’t be enough space if each adventurer was granted a unique room. Just outside the door a small hallway ended in a staircase leading down. Not wanting to exit the area yet, Tristen just peered down the stairs and noticed a slight shimmering at the base of the stairs. That must be the instance boundaries, thought Tristen. He briefly wondered why the instance zone was at the base of the stairs, but quickly realized it made more sense lest a long line of people start forming to open a singular door. Moving back into the room, he pulled up the menu and started going through the various options Sai had gone over. He wanted the game to be as immersive as possible, but also wanted to have a semblance of balance between reality and fantasy. If everything was identical to the real world, Tristen suspected that the epic fantasy feel would diminish. Why should he have to feel 100% of the pain like in the real world? He also didn’t want to keep it at the 30% level. The old saying, “no pain, no gain”, was true in a lot of ways. If there was no consequence for acting foolishly, then it would create sloppy game play. Tristen wanted to approach the game cautiously and really take his time figuring out his path instead of just charging recklessly forward. Deciding that he would adjust later if needed he set the pain threshold at 60%. He imagined getting stabbed or burned would still hurt quite a bit, but hopefully not to the point it would be debilitating. Moving to the settings for descriptive text boxes, he disabled displaying NPC names. He would rather learn the names of NPCs through dialogue or some type of inspection skill instead of random floating text above characters heads. Tristen also opted to have all notifications, messages, prompts, and alerts only show up as an alert on his notifications panel which only came into focus if Tristen willed it into place. When he was not looking at it, the notification bar could be seen faintly in the periphery of his view.

Next, Tristen disabled visible combat logs. He only wanted to see the health points of the mob that he was fighting. Everything else could be seen if he pulled up the combat log in a new window. For each mob that Tristen faced, he was able to decide how to display the creatures information. He decided to display its name, status, conditions and health in a small combat window only after inspecting or engaging an enemy. He then set the information box to display off to the side of his view so as not to obscure his view. He would probably end up tweaking it later as he didn’t know how realistic it would be or if it would even be a good idea to display the information. 

Double-checking all of the settings and character sheet, Tristen was ready to venture into the unknown. He opened the door and headed toward the staircase. As soon as he passed the threshold at the bottom, a prompt lit up his notification bar. Deciding to look at it later, Tristen looked around the room realizing it was a large, open hall with dozens of people milling about. Chuckling, Tristen was easily able to point out players from NPCs. All of the players appeared to be wearing the same or similar clothing in varying colors and flitted around the hall like a pinball machine. The NPCs were a stark contrast, showing a variety of clothing, armor, weapons, age and demeanor. This was their home and a comfortable atmosphere. It didn’t look like the majority of the computer generate characters held any resentment to the players for desecrating their home, but Tristen could see several groups of NPCs chatting and laughing amiably, pointing our players here and there behaving moronically. To Tristen’s right was a small table with what appeared to be receptionists and a line of people waiting to speak with them. Just behind them and to the right was a message board, kind of like a giant cork board with letters, flyers and wanted posters plastered all over. To Tristen’s left was a hearth with several benches scattered around and the occasional aged person sitting around chatting. Directly in front of him a door that appeared to dump unto the street. Turning around and looking at where he had come from, Tristen realized there were several staircases set into the back wall, all of them having the same shimmering veil, indicative of an instanced area.

Walking around the room, he noticed the construction of the building was made of stone with giant wooden beams criss-crossing the ceiling and large arched windows set periodically throughout the room. There was no glass, but the windows could be shuttered against inclement weather. Currently, all of the windows and doors were open, allowing sunlight into the room. Having taken stock of his surrounding, Tristen turned his attention to his notification panel and opened up the unread message.

Greeting Adventurer, Welcome to Aeglenn!

The world of Aeglenn contains endless paths for adventurers such as yourself to grow, gain strength and explore. Every adventurer begins their journey at the Adventurers Hall in their starting location. To view your starting location and also the location of your assigned room, you may open your map to see markers and descriptions of your surroundings. Registering with your local Adventurer Hall will enable you to gain exclusive access to starter quests and the quest board within the hall. Speak to the halls representatives at the reception desk for more information.

Glancing over at the reception desk, Tristen noted the line was nearly to the to the end and decided to at least talk to the representative about registering. It didn’t take long to work his way through the line where he was greeted by a middle-aged woman, “Hello Adventurer, what can I help you with today?”

Looking at the lady, Tristen paused mid-thought. He hadn’t even thought of her as an NPC and was about to address her as another human being. Everything was so realistic, it felt like the right thing to do. While he was pondering this situation, the NPC cleared her throat and asked again, “Can I help you with anything today?”

“Sorry, I am new to this world and find myself in awe of everything I have seen.” Clearing his head, Tristen asked her a series of questions about the registration process, any fees and and the exclusivity entailed. Listening patiently to his questions, she said “There is a fee for using our services, but not initially as we realize most adventurers are just starting out on their path. Instead, we require 5% of any profits gained during adventures obtained from our quest board.” She indicated the board just to the left and behind her.

“These profits will only be applicable to any coins found while questing. Any item or gear found, will be solely the adventurers property. The 5% fee will be automatically withdrawn during the acquisition of coins. This facility is owned by the Adventurers Guild, and any profits will be deposited into the guild to fund other adventures. Registering with an Adventurer Hall does not grant membership into the guild, only use of the services each hall affords to you. In order to become an official member of the guild, you would need to pay an entrance fee at one of the capital cities. If you become a member, it entitles you to use any of our Adventurer Halls and the services offered. If you wish to use another Adventurer Hall before becoming a guild member, you will need to separately agree on the 5% fee for any coin drops received while performing quests from their quest board.”

Alright, that made sense to Tristen and added a unique depth to the whole process that he could appreciate. Agreeing to the registration terms, he walked over to the quest board looking at what was up for grabs. Various gathering quests for materials with local crafters, a couple of bounty quests for bandits, and even a treasure hunting quest littered the “job” board. All of these would require a party, so he decided not to grab any of them and wait for his friends to make any selections. Tristen had no idea where his friends were located in relation to his starting location. While thinking about the geographic implications, Tristen pulled up his map. He was currently located in a town called Castille. The only thing that Tristen could see was the outline of the town, everything else was obscured by the literal fog of war typical of unexplored areas. As Tristen focused on the town itself in an attempt to discern any prominent features, a short descriptive text floated above the town that read:

Castille is a small settlement sharing boarders with Kiyll Woods (home of the wood elves and forest gnomes), the Qrax Mountains (home to the Mountain Dwarves and rumored Dark Dwarves far below the mountain), the rolling Plains of Nojik (home to Barbarians, Hill Dwarves and some settlements of Lightfoot Halflings) and the Krihn Cliffs (home to the high elves). Only Noble or Commoner Humans and Tinker Gnomes, begin their journey in Castille. The remaining races have nearby settlements where new adventurers begin their journey. Adventurers may visit nearby villages, but should be wary of reputation with other races.

Based on his map, Castille looked like small village, rather than a town. As Tristen had read the description of Castille on the map, each of the locations mentioned appeared from the fog. Each area was still surrounded by obscurity, but it didn’t look like it would take very long to traverse the distance between the towns. Castille seemed like the most obvious place to meet since it was in the middle of the various areas and humans were mostly neutral with other races. They would decide where in Castille to meet up after everyone had logged on. Looking at his map for some other inspiration, Tristen gave up, seeing nothing else of interest. Like other games he had played, the map would likely be revealed in more detail as he explored. Tristen wondered if he could zoom in on the map and pulled his back up. Sure enough he could zoom in, but it didn’t really change anything since the only building that was labeled was the Adventurer Hall and a little green marker which he identified as his starter room after focusing on the icon. Deciding to experiment a little, Tristen closed the map and walked to the closest building, which looked like some kind of store. Glancing up at the sign he read [Stacy’s General Goods]. Pulling up the map one more time, the building now had a label over the general goods store. With a couple hours to spare, Tristen began exploring the town in an attempt to identify all of the buildings and locations. The main building of interest in Castille included:

Stacey’s General Goods

General travel gear such as packs, rations, and tools

Grimgar’s Blacksmith

Steel armor, weapons, shields and equipment repair

Knife’s Edge

Weapon specialist

Clothing Emporium

Specializing in designer clothing and cloth and leather armor

Tonics and Potions

Specializing in potions, elixirs and poisons

Castille Inn & Tavern

Lodging, food and entertainment

There were a couple of other smaller buildings, several houses for the villagers and a training grounds on the edge of town. True to its description, Castille really was a starter location with just the bare minimum to get by. Tristen didn’t see any class trainers or profession trainers in town and wasn’t quite sure how the training grounds worked either. Realizing just how small the town was, he suspected the party wouldn’t be staying around very long. Walking over to the training grounds, Tristen found a huge number of other players practicing all manner of weapons and spells as well as several players squaring off in what looked like a sparring arena. On one side of the training grounds was a small building with a steady of flow of players coming and going. He would need to explore the building later and wondered if it was where they could learn some skills and magic. He had about 30 minutes before meeting his friends. Not wanting to hold up the party, Tristen logged off for a few minutes to take care of physical needs, grab a quite bite to eat and downed a glass of water. Once the party was gathered together, they would go over each of their characters, stats, skills and outline how each of them wanted to progress their characters. This was the same method, they always used Dungeon Quest was merely a board game and Tristen saw no reason to change their tried and true strategy. Tristen still hadn’t experienced the world at large and everything he’d done in game had been confined to this one small town. Some of the world beyond was visible, but the town walls obscured most of his view. Tristen could not wait to start exploring and questing with his friends!

A note from Balr0g

Thank you for taking the time to read Dungeon Quest Online! If you are enjoying reading this adventure as much as I am writing it, I encourge you to let me know by leaving a review and following the story as it progresses.

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About the author


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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