Chapter 24

First Encounter (Part 4)


  Tristen’s vision went dark for just a moment as he disengaged from the world of Aeglenn. When he opened his eyes, the world came into focus and he sat in his gaming chair with an urgent need to use the bathroom. With no wires or bulky gear to remove, Tristen could lurch to his feet and make his way over to the bathroom in his suite.

  Once he’d relieved himself, he walked to his small kitchen looking for something to eat. The only items to eat was a week old pizza. Although he loved pizza, and cold pizza often tasted better than the first time around, a week was a long time and the pizza looked suspect. Tristen picked up his phone and dialed the kitchen.

  They’d just finished the lunch meal and had leftovers he could pilfer before they went into the trash. All the meals were fantastic here, and this was no exception as he received an artisan Black Forest ham sub with all the accouterments. Tristen bit into the sub with relish and inhaled the meal. He didn’t realize he was so hungry, but it made sense as he’d skipped two meals playing the game. I wonder if we should build in a warning about satiety levels…

  Some games use satiety levels for eating in the game, but perhaps there's a way to implement a satiety level that shows the physical body’s need for sustenance. Maybe in game food would increase that satiety level a little, but the more each person put off real food, the faster and harder it would be to regenerate the satiety level in the game.

  Hm… I think it's a great idea. Tristen pulled up his virtual computer as he sat back into his gaming chair. Before he got too far, he opened the armrest and pulled out a can of soda from the built-in refrigerator. He smiled inwardly every time he thought about his current situation. The fruits of his labor all led to this, and he thoroughly enjoyed every minute of their success.

  Tristen quickly composed a message to his lead in R&D. He wrote about the possibility of adding satiety levels into the game.


Memo: R&D

Hey guys, I logged out from Dungeon Quest Online after a prolonged game play (five hours) and noticed a few things we can improve or add as a feature into the game. First, I noticed that I had to use the restroom really badly, but I hadn’t gotten an alert in the game. Sure, I could’ve held it for a while longer, but it'd be nice if I’d been notified sooner.

Second, I was starving after logging out. I didn’t even realize it and I got no symptoms in-game to make me feel hungry in the slightest. Perhaps it was the intense combat, but it seems like the feeling was nonexistent. That said, I wonder if there is a way to add satiety levels in the game. However, I don’t want players to eat in the game every couple hours to refill the bar as that'd be annoying and gamers everywhere would reject the inclusion.

Instead, if there is a way to tie the in-game satiety levels to the needs of the physical body, I think it'd be a good way to let players know when they need to eat something. It shouldn’t be all that hard to implement because the microchip is monitoring the neuro responses from their physical body already. We could build the satiety levels into the game and allow in game food to minimally, and only temporarily, increase satiety levels, but ultimately have it replenished only after the person has logged out and eaten.


Tristen Alexander


  Email sent, he pulled up his Inbox to look for any urgent messages that’d come in while he was in the game. He saw nothing that required immediate attention. Closing his email with a gesture, he pulled up the game forums and… We don’t have our own forums! Why didn’t I think of this before?

  Tristen dove right back into his email and typed out another memo to the marketing team.


URGENT Memo: Marketing & Web Designers

I pulled up a few forums to browse information about the game and realized we have nothing of our own that users can interact with and come to for knowledge about the game. All we have is the website where they purchased the game or microchip and some FAQ’s. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before, or maybe one of you suggested it and I glossed over it. If someone suggested it, I apologize, but I’d like to get this done ASAP.

We could generate a lot of traffic to our sites and driving more adaption of the technology using our own forums. I’d also like to hire data scientists and big data analytical engineers to create something that will catalogue and index the forums for our research and marketing teams. Finding out what users are talking about, issues they have, or areas they really enjoy will help us with future releases.

If we need to buy a forum, that’s already out there and re-brand it, we can do that too. Whatever is more efficient and fastest, let’s get this done. I’d also like to ask the marketing team with getting original content put up on the blog/forum. Send out notifications we’d like to interview some people playing the game and get content generated.

Please consider this a top priority. It may already be too late to get the first wave of people transferred over to our forum, but if you identify a forum, that's popular with the game, start discussions about an acquisition. Put a proposal together for me and I’ll review it later tonight.


Tristen Alexander


  Ok, no more working until tonight. Once again, Tristen pulled up the forums and searched for topics on the game. His first order of business was to find out about the level imbalance with non-human races. Tristen browsed until he found a thread by someone named “EvilKirby” titled “POST: 1.5x Exp is L33T”. Gamers and their leet-speak... Tristen pulled up the forum and read.

EvilKirby: Ok, so does anyone else think 1.5x Exp for humans is totally the bees knees? Our party all went with humans and we are already at level 9! I’ve been asking other people in the game about their experiences and most people chose what race they liked best instead of stacking humans specifically to level faster, but man I gotta tell ya, do it!

Wynona: Dude, you guys suck. Why would anyone stack humans? There’s no way you get a good balance of skills and race bonuses. You guys will stall out when you get to later game content.

BallFace: @EvilKirby has a point though. We’ve been going through with a mix of races and have leveling issues for the one human in our party. She’s already two levels above us and that makes the dungeons a lot harder


  The thread had hundreds of replies, some ripping into the stupidity of “EvilKirby”, other’s agreeing with him and yet more discussing the leveling disparity. He was on page twelve before he read a simple comment that made him face palm.

  Smurfnuggets: Guys, if you’re so concerned about out-leveling the rest of your part, just take a bunch of gathering quest from local merchants and only have your non-human party members turn them in for the Exp gains. Sure, you don’t get the extra coins, but it’s better to have a balanced party, anyway.

  I’m an idiot, why didn’t I think of that? Tristen assumed they’d do the gathering quests together and turn them in as a group, but there was no reason for them to do that. It wouldn’t be a ton of Exp, but it was a start and they could build it into their strategy going forward to maintain a good balance for the party. Satisfied he had a plan, Tristen closed out the forums and looked at his clock. I’ve still got fifteen minutes…

  He logged back in early to look around the cavern for any more loot or caches. Maybe there's a cache or hidden treasure we missed. So far they’d struck out hard on anything of much value in the dungeon. He knew they wouldn’t find valuable treasure in every dungeon, but he hoped they’d get something for all the trouble, not to mention they only had basic gear so it stood to reason they could find something to upgrade themselves in the dungeon.

Dungeon Quest Begin

  Tristen was getting used to the login sequence. The fade to black before the game appeared seemed normal and even peaceful as his mind cleared and re-focused on the game. He looked around, but saw no sign of his friends. Maybe they're still taking a break. Just as he exited the room, Tristen heard a sharp metallic scraping and pulled his sword and shield out.

  “Anyone here yet?”

  Tyler responded in party chat, “Hey Tristen, I found ore nodes along the wall, just clearing them out now. Let me tell you, having the skill to mine makes this a whole heck of a lot easier. I still miss occasionally, but it’s a glancing blow, not a full on swing and a miss.”

  “Awesome, did Natalia and Aaron log back on yet? I don’t want to stab anyone while I look around.”

  “I don’t think so. Besides, can you even damage friendlies?”

  “Hm… why don’t you come over here and we’ll find out?”

  “Ha, no thanks… I’ll just give you my dagger and you can stab yourself again!” Laughing at his own antics Tristen heard Tyler resume his mining and explored other parts of the room. Since he was still in the leaders hut, he rummaged around, pulling up carpets, and lastly kicking the chair leader has sat in before they killed him.

  When he kicked the chair and brought his foot back down, he heard a hollow thunk and examined the floor closely. Not wanting to touch anything without a better view, he grabbed the torch they’d left in a brazier near the entrance. Actually, this torch appeared to be guttering out. Pulling out another torch, Tristen lit it with the flame of the first and replaced it back into the brazier.

  With the new torch in hand, Tristen walked back over to the area he suspected and brushed the dirt aside. Sure enough, there was a square patch that looked newer than the rest of the floor and was hollow when he tapped on it.

  “Tyler, need your expertise in the leader’s tent when you're done mining.”

  “Roger that!”

  “Why, what’s up?”

  The new voice started Tristen, and he jumped, careful not to disturb the possible hidden cache. He turned and saw Aaron and Natalia standing at the entrance to the hut.

  “Hey you two, I think I’ve found a cache of some sort here. I tore this place apart and stumbled on this purely by accident.”

  “We can see that.” Natalia looked around the room with widened eyes seeing the destruction he'd wrought on the place.

  “It’s not like anyone’s alive to use it anymore…”

  “True enough, I kinda feel bad a little though. I mean, what if we could've reasoned with them?”

  “I’m not sure that would’ve happened Natalia. If you remember all the description prompts, these things are creatures of battle and always warring between tribes. I think it's all they know, violence. Look at all the surroundings? I see no evidence of the mundane things in life. Everything involves fighting and war. Every lizard folk we killed had weapons and armor.”

  “Good point, I guess I hadn’t thought of that.”

  Tyler walked into the room as they finished discussing what types of creatures they’d killed.

  "I got five more copper and another flint from the two nodes over there. Where's this cache?"

  "Over here," Tristen pointed to the patch he stood next to. "I think it's a cache, but I didn’t want to open so I don’t get an arrow through my head…"

  “Ah, mister funny guy. Okay, back up and I’ll look.” Tyler stooped down and put his hand forward, the same motion he’d done when traversing the tunnels. After pausing for a few seconds he declared the area free of traps. Tyler grabbed his dagger and shoved it into what looked like the edge of the opening. Wriggling the dagger, he popped up a square portion of the floor and pushed it over to the side.

  “Booya! Finally, something worth the trek through here.”

  Tristen peered over Tyler's shoulder and saw him clutching a fist full of coins, some gold scattered throughout.

Congratulations, you have found Okegi Hidden Cache

Gold Coins x 5

Silver Coins x 87

Coper Coins x 312

Small Shield of Defense

Oiled Leather Boots of Shadow

Ring of Healing

Iron Belt of Strength

Loot All? Yes/No

  Tristen selected Yes, and the loot disappeared into his bag. He inspected all the gear before starting a trade with his friends.

  “There’s an item for each of us in the cache.” He gave the ring to Natalia, belt to Aaron, boots to Tyler, and kept the shield for himself. Making the trade, he inspected the new shield.

Small Shield of Defense

Quality: Common

Defense: +9

Stat Boost: None

Requirements: None

Durability 100/100

  Tristen debated which shield to go with. The extra defense was nice, but he’d lose +3 Strength. Looking at his skills, he determined that losing Strength was acceptable and the gain to defense was more important. The party lacked defense and anything he could do to prolong their life in a protracted battle was a boon to the party.

  “Now this dungeon is looking better,” Tyler admired his new boots and Tristen could tell he was looking at something on his character sheet as his eyes jumped all over the place.

  “I agree, this belt ups my strength by a decent amount.” Tristen looked over and saw the belt strapped to Aaron’s waist. It looked cool and went with the rest of his gear nicely.

  Natalia examined her hand where the Ring of Healing rested. “The ring doesn’t really help me yes, but once I get healing spells, it gives a +2 for them!”

  “Everyone geared up? We need to keep moving. This dungeon is taking a long time and we still have the other quests to get to. At this rate, we won’t finish them by the end of the weekend.” Tristen received nods and words of affirmation from the party. “All right, let’s head back to the chamber where the paths split. It’s the only place we haven’t thoroughly examined, so it’s got to be the alternate path out.”

  The group retraced their steps and entered the second tunnel. Tyler already scouted ahead, so they all piled into the tunnel following him.


  The sound echoed through the narrow corridor and every paused.

  “What the heck was that?” Tristen looked forward and backward seeking the source of the sound until Natalia spoke up.

  “Um, guys… the tunnel just shut behind us. It’s as if there was never a passage here.”

  “No one move!” The shout made Tristen jump, and he looked at Tyler to see why he shouted. Tyler had his hand up in the air in the same gesture he used when checking for traps. “We're surrounded by traps. ”

  The panic in Tyler’s voice filled the other party members with dread.

  “What have we gotten ourselves into…”

A note from Balr0g

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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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