Welcome to [Monarch]
Type B user detected
Begin character generation?
"Yes", Orson thought in response to the glowing words.
Character generation in 3.. 2..
The young man grinned in anticipation. It was the first time in a long time that he was looking forward to something.
Everything changed. In the span of a second, Orson was assaulted with millions of colors, hues that he couldn't even conceive of dancing into and out of his vision. Entire worlds of smell and sound swirled around him in an instant. Overbearing pain and massive pleasure drove themselves into his body, contending for supremacy. Orson's entire world was flooded in a cacophony of sensation.
Then it stopped. All at once, Orson felt a deep sense of serenity. He took a deep breath and opened the eyes that he now knew were closed.
Standing on a white pillar, not seven meters in front of him, was a rather large man. His bald head was perhaps his most noticeable feature, as it somehow shone brightly, despite the clear lack of any light source as everywhere else was pitch black. His orange beard was long but well-kempt, displaying a certain level of personal pride. The man's features were somewhat old, yet his cerulean eyes were sharp and inspected Orson curiously. Though he was undeniably fat, his pristine suit was also strained by his large musculature. He reminded Orson of a powerlifter in that way.
After a moment, the large man broke out into a wide jovial smile. His deep, slightly accented voice echoed slightly in Orson's ears.
"Welcome to [Monarch], Mr. Berenth. I hope you've acclimated to the Pod?", He asked.
"Yes", Orson answered simply. He was in full control of all of his body's functionality as far as he could tell.
The man clapped his meaty hands together. "Excellent! I'll begin the introduction right away then", he enthused, "I trust that you've heard of [Monarch] before, yes?"
That was an understatement. Orson and his group of friends were excited for its release as soon as it was announced. Why wouldn't they be? Full immersion VRMMORPG's were a fantasy for decades, watching one being born was bound to bring about excitement. Orson enveloped himself in learning every little aspect of the game. For months, he scoured the web for the tiniest hint, trusting data that had multliple sources and discarding any theorycrafting. He had intended to start a monk's guild when he finally started playing, so he also researched a few martial arts. Not enough to be called a combat NEET, mind you, but enough to be classified as obsessed.
The first person to get the game was Sarah, one of Orson's friends from third grade. Really, it was no wonder as her family was comprised of well-off doctors, easily able to afford the seven million dollar price tag. Then came another friend, Derek, who bought [Monarch], and another.. and another... until Orson was the last man standing. His family had never been known to have the most money and this fact compounded with their hatred of videogames basically sealed his fate. Nonetheless, Orson devoured any and all information regarding the game and threw himself at mastering the martial arts that he had chosen, hoping beyond hope that he would somehow be able to play.
It had been over a year since launch. Of course, his friends sympathized with him, but they gradually began to distance themselves. This was not out of spite, but rather because most of their time was spent in the game, not to mention the 5 to 1 time difference a user experiences when logged in. Really, it surprised Orson that it took this long for him to be cut out. He had no place in the hour-long discussions that the his friends had, as his only contributions were facts that the group already knew.
However, Orson's time was also booked with various court hearings. Those damn, unending court hearings that cost a fortune and nearly his life. Orson mentally reeled himself in. "I can't keep thinking back on that" he thought, "I need to leave the past in the past."
Not missing a beat after the fat man spoke, Orson replied with a nod.
"Great, then I can leave a few details out for time's sake", he explained to Orson, "First off, introductions. I am Jackson, the AI assigned to integrate all Type B players into [Monarch]. My functions include character generation, tutorial management, and general advice."
"This guy is an AI? He looks so much more lifelike than I had expected", Orson thought, almost trembling in anticipation, "I can't even begin to imagine what the game would look like."
Baaltech had forbidden any screenshots of the game, so Orson had never personally seen anything, though what he had heard about the graphics impressed him to no end.
"You, as I'm sure you're fully aware of, are a Type B player", Jackson continued with more seriousness in his voice, "Meaning that you won't have the standard experience of a normal player. Instead, you will be spawned as a Boss in a random dungeon. Your main purpose in [Monarch] is to be a challenge to the Type A players."
"...What?", Orson almost whispered.
Jackson nodded, with a hint of pity in his eyes. "Yes, Mr. Berenth, that is the truth. The developers have found that humans are better suited to being Mob Bosses than the standard AI we have in place. Apparently, they are more... vicious."
Orson swallowed in fear. In [Monarch], pain is simulated perfectly, meaning that having an arm torn off would feel like having an arm torn off, and dying... would feel like dying. If Orson was a Boss Mob, then he would be hunted down relentlessly for EXP and rare loot. He would no doubt die thousands of times in the ten years that he was put into the pod.
"There's nothing that I can do about it either", Orson thought, "Baaltech bought my Conviction Rights. Technically, my life is in their hands."
"I understand your trepidation, Mr. Berenth, but there is a light in the end of the tunnel. If you outlevel the dungeon that you spawn in, then you may escape and become a World Boss. You'll have full control of your movements, but be warned: while you won't lose any levels when you die as a Dungeon Boss, you will do so when you die as a World Boss. Many of our Type B players have elected to stay within their dungeons for this same reason", Jackson offered.
"... Okay. If this is where I have to spend the next ten years, then I might as well adapt to the situation. I refuse to live my entire time here in fear. I'll be the strongest World Boss in [Monarch], then nobody will dare mess with me", Orson resolved himself.
"Can I make my new body now?", he questioned Jackson.
The AI visibly brightened up again in response to the young man's enthusiasm.
"Of course! Well, your options are different from the standard Type A player in that the only races available to you are monsters, so..."
Suddenly, a massive line of monsters appeared between Jackson and Orson. Scales, teeth, and burly muscles as far as the eye can see.
"Let's pick one out for you!", Jackson finished with a flourish of his hand.
Orson smiled lightly noting the sheer ferocity of some the monsters. If he had this much of an advantage, then maybe it wouldn't be so bad.
Both of them set to work narrowing down the possible choices.
First, Orson eliminated underwater-only races. He had no problem swimming, but deep water always unnerved him. With a flash, mermen, squid creatures, and eel warriors (as well as many others) disappeared. The remaining beasts closed the gaps.
Next, Orson decided to ask a question, "Why do some creatures look so much weaker than others?"
It was a good question. Among the ranks of imposing ogres and fearsome demons also held mice and fragile goblins. The discrepancy was almost comical.
"Well, it's simple", Jackson explained, "All of the creatures you see now are the base forms of their species. Over time and through accomplishing specific requirements, they can [Evolve] into stronger forms. As a general rule, the weaker they are in their base state, the more times that they can evolve. Though, I wouldn't advise that you pick an ant because of that, as some creatures will always be a step behind others, no matter how many times they evolve."
"Interesting", Orson pondered, "I assume that I need to balance natural strength and growth rate if I want to survive long-term."
"Then can you show me all of their final forms?", He asked.
Jackson shook his head. "I'm sorry", he said with regret, "I cannot do that. Besides, some of these creatures' final forms would drive you insane at a single glance."
Orson shuddered, not out of fear but excitement. He might be one of those terrifying beasts some day.
"Okay then", Orson responded, "Then please eliminate all monsters below four feet tall."
About 70% of the creatures blinked out of existence, the rest formed closer together. There was about fifty left to cull.
"Jackson, is [Evolution] a branching or linear path?", Orson asked.
"Branching", Jackson said with a bit of curiosity in his voice, "Of course there are common [Evolutions] and rarer ones as well. It all depends on the requirements you fulfill. Why?"
Orson smiled victoriously. If his hunch was correct then he might have found a way to pick out the highest potential monster. Of course, it was all a roll of the dice at this point, but Orson was reasonably confident in what he was about to do.
"Please eliminate all monsters with only common evolutions", Orson said calmly.
Jackson's eyes widened. "Are you certain? That would eliminate some very powerful creatures such as the Dragonoids, Blood Elves, and Incubus!"
"That's fine, Jackson", Orson replied with absolute confidence. He subtly clenched his fists in anticipation and hoped that he was correct.
After a moment, all but ten monsters were left.
"And finally, eliminate all monsters that have to sleep", Orson finished his culling.
All but three monsters were gone and Orson closely inspected them. Their statuses appeared over their heads as he did.
The first was a grey blob with a curiously shiny exterior. It was just translucent enough to make out a vague red orb in its center. It jiggled slightly as Orson regarded it.
This creature is notoriously tough, boasting incredible defence and flexibility. It's primary weakness is magic. The Metal Slime is the largest of all of the slime family's base forms.
-20% Resistance to all magic
+Skill Tree: Magnetic Essence
Next was a rather tall humanoid. Hundreds of tiny crevices ran atop its clay colored skin. Its jagged exterior belied its aura of power. The creature had two red gemstones in place of eyes, though it had no other facial features.
Drawing power from stone and rock have made this elemental incredibly resilient to physical and magical damage. Unfortunately, its speed has suffered.
+10% Resistance to all magic
+Skill Tree: Earth's Might
The final monster was pale, very very pale. Hunched over, it was almost Orson's height, it would no doubt tower over him if the creature would straighten its posture. Though it had a thin frame, its muscles were toned and lithe, especially those on its slightly elongated arms. It idly grasped its long hands, as if impatient with Orson's inspection, though it had no expression on its face. In fact, its face was surprisingly normal, albeit with heavy black bags under its eyes and glassed-over dark red eyes. The creature's charcoal hair stuck out in all directions, matching its overall savage appearance. Its only clothing was a ragged loincloth, barely covering what was underneath.
This creature has been recently infected with the Vampiric Disease. As a result, its overall power has been enhanced. Consequentially, it has a deep aversion to the sun.
+5 to all stats
-50% resistance to light magic & regeneration disabled in sunlight
+Skill Tree: Blood Hunter
"If I want to survive then I need to spec myself to solo-play", Orson considered, "I need to counteract quite a few playstyles, but I can't afford to be a jack-of-all-trades. Hmm, I should probably focus on hit-and-run tactics, at least at first. The best monster for that would be..."
"The Ghoul", Orson decided.
The Metal Slime and Earth Elemental disappeared, leaving only Orson, Jackson, and the Ghoul in the room.
"Any additional customization?", the AI inquired.
Orson considered it for a moment.
"Could you make him have my facial features?", he requested.
Instantly, the Ghoul's face melted and reformed itself into an exact replica of Orson's face, if he was a red-eyed albino that hadn't slept in a week. The young man was good looking, having a defined jawline, slightly thicker eyebrows, and a small stubble. Still, the Ghoul's eyes were glassed over, like he had no emotions whatsoever. That was fine for Orson. After adjusting its skin tone, he was finished. Although the adjustment went from bone-white to an unhealthy pale, it was all that Orson could do.
"Okay, if that's all in order, it's time to choose your initial class", Jackson announced.
Orson was confused. "I still get to choose a class even if I'm a monster?", he questioned.
"Yes, as a boss monster, you have that special privilege", Jackson said with a smile, "I assume you know what classes do as well?"
Of course he knew, after all of the hours he dedicated to research. [Monarch] was no average MMO in many ways. It all began with skills. [Monarch] allowed its users to make anything into a skill, and as those skills leveled up, the users would get SP to spend on Skill Trees. These Trees offered powerful bonuses, depending on their rarity and how many SP were invested into them. Of course, these Trees could be unlocked by various means, but classes were the most common way to get them.
"Okay, then I'll choose [Taker]", Orson requested.
"...", Jackson was stunned, "... Are you sure, Mr. Berenth?"
Orson nodded slowly, determination in his eyes. He had done the math and scoured the forums for hundreds of hours. If Orson was sure of anything, then he was sure of this. Of the millions of people playing [Monarch], only five hundred had chosen [Taker] and of those five hundred only six kept it, the others chose to change classes or quit the game entirely. It would take quite a bit of determination to overcome those odds.
"Yeah, I am", he replied.
"Very well", Jackson said with a complicated expression, "I suppose we should begin the tutorial then."
"Sounds good to me", Orson assented.
Not a moment later, all three figures disappeared in a flash.