Dungeon Mage

by YesorNo

Original ONGOING Action Fantasy Dungeon Grimdark High Fantasy Magic Male Lead Reincarnation Strategy Strong Lead
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore

The world is a Dungeon. The Dungeon Core shattered long years ago in an event called the Splintering. The shards of the Core scattered across the world. The large ones formed mini Dungeons of their own. The smaller ones turned into Skill Shards.

The inhabitants of the world can fuse with Skill Shards to get skills. The shards can fuse into myriad Dungeons and mages at the pinnacle of magic have their own personal Dungeons. They are the Dungeon Mages.

Our MC travels back in time from the future and uses his knowledge to free humanity from the oppression of the other races.

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seagull
  • Overall Score

Quick first impressions

Classical story of powerful character returning back in time to when he was powerless.

First impression:

  • Characters motives are clear without being cliché and the few others seemed as fleshed out as the protagonist.
  • Worlbuilding is hinted and boy does it look intriguing
  • Prose is well written with good description and a clear picture of thought process. Especially like the sand part.

Worth giving it a try

Great expectations for the long run. 

obran
  • Overall Score

I'll probably change my rating later.

Okay... I will admit that I was hoping that this was a story about how Anthony Bourdain or some other famous chef became a dungeon core and began to create levels devoted to cooking.  

Alas, this is not that story.  And I will admit that I almost gave up at the reference to "

Even after his ominous reputation for using the blood of his foes as kitchen ingredients spread to the ears of the Orc Chiefs and they bayed for his blood in return." which sounded like the author was trying way too hard.

But I kept going, and I have to admit that I kind of like what I read.  The idea of skill shards fascinates me.  Therein lies the material that will make or break this admittedly over-written fiction.

I didn't really enjoy chapter 1, but by chapter 3 I was enjoying myself.  So who knows.  Hopefully, we have another winner here.

Inslayer
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Definitely a recommendation

I won't explain the story, that is a task for the description to handle. I will say, however, that the story is realistic in a fantasy setting, and that says a few things. The author has paid attention to detail and it shows.

Style is above the usual RoyalRoad novels. You will be held against your will, by your will, to read this novel. Have some important stuff to do? Well, too bad, can't stop till it's over.

Grammar is mostly perfect, and I noticed only two mistakes or so. The mistakes were small enough to not impact reading experience, so full points for that as well. 

Well, here we reach a tricky point in character. There are some that will say something about "one dimensional characters" and some that will sing songs of joy about how amazingly well every character is presented. Well, whatever they say, I don't really care, but here is the thing; eight chapters in the story is a bit too little to say anything about proper character development for my liking. That said, if we do really go by the characters that were focused on and expanded upon, the author has done an amazing job in just eight chapters. 

Overall? It's a solid five. The description promises and the story delivers. Even if you're not entirely sure about reading the novel with its description, give it a go. I guarantee that you will fall in love with the story from these eight chapters I have read, solely.

Hans
  • Overall Score

Good start so far

(latest chapter at the time of review: 15)

(updated 2019-04-16, chapter 24)

The setting is choosen exceedingly well: powers and races are familiar enough the reader is not overwhelmed but different in small ways to allow the author to put some new twists to familiar concepts. The MC - (former and current) slave as he is - has major holes in his knowledge of the world, which prevents the terrible "MC is so OP he knows everything and can not lose"-syndrom plaguing many similar storys.

I very much appreciate the logical start (consumable shard fits the setting very well) and the quite  unexpected slight plot twist in chapter 15 (best chapter so far btw).

(The Magic system is more logical as of chapter 24 - and the fix was very well integrated in the story as a common misconception - so the following paragraph of my original review is not accurate any more:

I do however have some minor issues with the wording of some concepts and their abusability. Body heat being converted to mana seems to make a great deal of sense at the start - it elegantly bridges the gap between cultivation and workouts. It comes with a massive set of problems though: If you talk about heat and body temperature, I expect it to behave like physical heat and body temperature in the real world. And so the question arises, why the fuck do people smear themselves with clay or work out when they could much more effectively take a really nice finnish sauna or paint themselves black and go sunbathing - probably incredibly cheaply, as they are in a warm region and there has been no indication so far of any shortage of burnable materials. As criticizing an aspect without solution is really bad style, here a possible alternative: do not make it  heat, make it a byproduct of metabolims in this world (you do not even give a reason because that could just be the effect of the world dungeon, there is mana after all, or mana precursors like e.g. nanosized shard splinters from the food accumulating), state that the closing of the "pores" (there are structures commonly reffered to as pores in the human skin (sudoriparous glands), and they do not stop heat) ensures this mana stays in the body (otherwise it would be excreted with the sweat because e.g. the body considers it as toxic, which it well may be to the untrained person) make the clay some low efficiency pharmacological substance with the same effect (or better use e.g. some herbs or bushes growing in the area. Fits in nicely with the whole chef theme - adequate precursors found in adequate food.)

Pacing is good, maybe a tad to fast for my taste. The side characters so far were almost consistently great, very creative and believable, but had little "screen time", we could use some more - or more permanent - ones. The culture(s) could use some more fleshing out. I get it that the orcs should be evil here - and it is absolutely legitimate to let the main character's previous negative experience colour the descriptions. I do however think that almost no fraction considers itself the bad guys and at least in fantasy worlds with vastly different species one culture's evil is an other culture's good (or at least legitimate to defend their interests). Thus I would prefer a bit more worldbuilding especially on ork culture and why crudelity in slavery is the way to go here - in human history slaves were usually only treated badly if they were worth very little, e.g. in low skill non fighting jobs (mining, field work, galley) which were also used as an alternative to a death sentence. Roman citizens quite often went so far as to sell themselves into slavery to be better off. If you want Orks to be warlike, flauting their superiority and lower in number than the humans (as I am under the impression you intended) for a reason beyond inborn taste for crudelity, I can recommend the treatment of Helots (much to be found on the internet, for convenice as a start https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helots) as a real world inspiration that makes the seemingly extreme behavior more understandable.

I can not adequatly judge grammar, vocabulary and wording. Sure, I read a ton of stuff in english, but I am no native speaker nor do I have adequate training. So take it with a grain of salt that I have found no significant grammatical or orthographical mistakes so far, certanly nothing major enough to interfere with the flow of reading. The vocabulary and wordplay are good but could be more varied, but I just re-read Theadbare, so it might just be an unfair comparison.

As one may infer from my 4.5 stars rating, despite the two points I found somewhat lacking I did very much enjoy the story this far and consider it superior to a significant part of the published books I read. The great new twist on a cultivation-type world and the elegant solution to the MCs backstory enabling his rational behavior are special highlights, as is the new unexpected develpment in chapter 15. May the author avoid the common pitfalls of making the antagonists boring flat evil, the MC too strong too fast and not finishing the story.

 

I hereby recommend the the story, especially to those who like cultivation-, reincarnation- or redo-type storys. Fans of fast-paced developments and action will not find this one lacking in said aspects, but it is well written enough to be a delightful read to those like me who usually prefer worldbuilding, interesting characters and slow developments.

I am looking forward to further great chapters and intend to edit this review after some more (chapter 30 +/- 5).

Update as of chapter 24: Great fix for the magic system in the last chapter, made the world a lot more believable and prevented the exploits mentioned in the obsolete part of my original review. Unfortunately, the last few chapters were - except for said fix - while still good not quite on par with the first 15.

[very slight spoilers ahead, you can probably read it]

His new mistress is a bit overdrawn (classic chaotic good with quite stereotypic backstory) and her being a very powerful individual interested in seeing the MC grow strong currently undercuts any feeling of danger towards the protagonist's life.

So still 4,5 stars despite a great fix.

I will update this review in approximately 15 chapters.

 

Steady
  • Overall Score

Spoilers ahead, just started book 2. Rewrote review, the following paragraph are my initial first impressions.

Story seems nice. The medic was a good start- his skill was cool, and his usage of it was even cooler, which sets the standards of the quality of the world pretty high. It's well written, and by that I mean grammatically it doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out. Beyond that I'm not a great judge. If you are a prospective reader, I recommend you give it a go.

 

Here are some criticisms.

I thought the shift from serving orcs into serving a vampire was a nice change of pace. I really didn't expect it, and after a dozen or so chapters of "grr I'm gonna rise to fight the evil orcs" it was a pretty welcome surprise because otherwise things might have been too easy with his foreknowledge. Which is good. But after that, the rest of the first book was more of an exercise in world building and establishing the new setting. Also showing how inadequete the main character was. So far it's been mainly going through trope after trope. Which isn't necessarily bad; they are executed decently well and it's a rather unique combination. To name a few; character goes back in time, decently skilled but not elite of the elite, often times a lone wolf as well. Has to be a slave and discreetly plots his revenge. Now he's like an extra oath bound slave but there's still a way out. I think I'm somewhat disappointed that there hasn't been an eruption or climaxes recently. Yes, there have been fights, but for example the fight where he cuts off his arm was incredible, but these fights in the later half of book one has been more of "oh hey my master is fighting stuff" and I've been given her background but I think I'm lacking sympathy towards her so I care less. I think I'm lacking sympathy for her because she seems rather pampered? And yeah she has her troubles and might get married off but she also enslaved ya boi. There have been mentions of her being some kind of mascot of humanity in the future, but we've been given not enough context to know what exacly happens, or maybe I just don't remember. To be fair, maybe this is all build up, and it's been building and building.

 

The start of book 2 is slightly odd, but not entirely unreasonable. Suddenly he drops off his whole "I'm gonna start a genocide of orcs" shtick. That's basically a personality trait in stories and he just gives it up. The reasons are palatable, and it is basically "I don't know what to think of things so I'll make it my goal to find out for now". I think it makes sense if he was incredibly culture shocked, but it feels a little lacking. He's met about two vampires so far, it feels slightly premature to decide what an entire culture and society is like just based on that and a history lesson. Maybe walk into a town first? Culture shock is more of being unable to speak a local language, or questioning how odd certain daily societal norms are or how certain jobs wouldn't exist elsewhere or wondering how certain things are a waste of money or time. Instead the culture shock is "oh they are a lot more powerful and advanced than me. Also all the races aren't so different?" Which is less of a culture shock and more of a lesson in humility coupled with enlightenment (and this seems a little out of place). I imagine he already knew that vampires were a little bit more privileged or more powerful in his previous life. I think there were cursory details around the time he gets sold to a vampire that corroborate this. I mean the orcs would defer to the vampires when they showed up, and this is normal to Sand. The history lesson is exciting, and makes up the context for the main character's sudden change of thoughts. It still feels too sudden though, for the reasons already stated. I would expect that it would be hinted at and mulled or developed over a longer period of time. Or would necessitate a much bigger shock. Although to be fair, there is that detail about the vampire master being an icon for humans. Which is incredibly interesting! And might serve as part of these conclusions that were drawn, but we've been told to dismiss it and that there were so little details surrounding and perhaps it is some sort of conspiracy or plot. If that was the core reason of all this change in Sand's moral landscape then maybe things make sense but it seemed like such a throwaway anecdote with little substance, perhaps it was understated too much. I can appreciate a writer that can let readers draw their own conclusions, but in this case Sand is drawing his own conclusions so it might need to be overstated a little bit more, if indeed this was a flaw.

The redone chapters are a lot better. Nice job!

DeadlyMK
  • Overall Score

I'm not gonna give a very in depth review, since the story only has 11 chapter at this time.

That being said:

Characters: As said in all other reviews, the characters have been delved into quite a bit given how few chapters have been released; power relationships have been fairly clearly defined, and motivations are clear. (Though some are shoved down your throat sometimes... show don't tell)

Plot: The foundations to the story are set very well. Throught the motivations mentioned earlier, as well as a clear path to follow in the form of the magic system, you have a storh with few contrived elements. (I'll be getting back to the magic system in a sec)

Grammar: The grammar is surprisingly good for a non translated novel. No glaring spelling errors, nor is there a constant shift of tenses, something which is a common problem in many other novels. With some edditing, deffinetly publishing-standard writing.

Worlbuilding: The story is set in a grimdark fantasy world filled with magic. Certain locations are name-dropped, indicating a possible plan of the geography within fhe desert, and a wider world outside the desert is hinted at quite early in the story. That being said, you're not exposed to many elements of the world early on, so the author has alot to work with. Then there's the magic system, which deserves a section of it's own.

Magic: Honestly for me, the magic is the best part of the story. I personally enjoy the realism of the story, as well as the explenation of the skills and power levels. The idea of skillshards needing to feed, or how mana is the extra energy of your body which can be lossed if you don't replenish it is amazing. The skill system woth its risks and benefits and the need of a balanced skillset to make a dungeon is great to me.

 

All in all, the story is one of great potential which i plan on following. Author san don't let me down here.

(Forgive any glaring issues or straight up bullshit in this review, I'm just a 15yr old jackass bored enough to review work of such quality that I could never emulate )

Tomolone
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It takes a special type of story for me to read it, one that just hooks you at the first chapter and doesn't dissapoint after, not even one chapter. It's been a while since I found of those: This is it.

The grammar is superb, the story is excellent, Characters have goals and backstory, constant progression without rushing... I found myself begging for more at chapter 12.

The on thing that I believe makes this story is the fleshed out characters. More oftne then not I start to read something and it's all MC, then I drop.

Good worldbuilding, the "System" as well. 

I can't wait till you release more.

 

HamsterDesTodes
  • Overall Score

Review as of chp 15 - too black/white

The author is asking for reviews, so here it is - the tl;dr first: The story is not my cup of tea, but technical not bad.

the (slightly) longer version:
There's little in the way of balance to the characters, the bad guys are completely evil, the good guys (are there any?) are poor, oppressed SOBs. And we readers get these facts shoved down our throats without pause.

Apart from these heavy-handed characters, the language itself is at times overly dramatic as well. Tryhard is the word that comes to mind, or perhaps teenage-girl-angsty ["the heinous blood devil will broil your carcass and relish garnishing his execrable repaste with your hallow life essence - RAWWWR!"]
The good points are the lack of typos, homonyms, editing-leftovers or just plain wrongly used words. It's refreshing! Still, not refreshing enough for me, but a minimum of stars is ensured despite my dislike for the story-shouting itself.

Having said that, it's early days yet, and the later chapters do seem to improve, but I'm still traumatized by the first few.

Calavente
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Good premices of a story (read until ch 12) (now 35).

a little bit sad that he seems to be following on the same "shard construction" that he did in his previous life.

grammar 5

story/plot : 5 

character : 5 (for the moment): MC  which is well describe... but no side character yet so too early (edit : Lirael is becoming much interesting.. ).

style : 2 (joke) 5, but I really find that those chapter end too quickly...

jaquecustoe
  • Overall Score

Story generated a good vibe from the get go.  

Characters (at least the named ones) are fleshed out on motivations and a sense of drive.  Though most is only from the perspective of the MC.

The imediate changes from the original timeline lead toward a break in the title from the story.

Overall a good start to a hopefully good story.

Grammar and punctuation are clean.  Not a translation.